POLITICS

Zuma: The Nuclear Deal Is Still Happening, Folks

He says nuclear power stations will eventually bring the country profits once they are built.

23/06/2017 06:34 SAST | Updated 23/06/2017 06:34 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

South Africa's controversial nuclear build programme is still very much on the cards.

In his responses to parliamentary questions on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said government still intends to pursue the acquisition of nuclear power stations at a "pace and scale" that the country can afford.

He said nuclear energy forms part of a larger energy mix of hydro, wind and solar energy that government is pursuing to create sustainable long-term energy.

"We are committed to a process that is open and transparent, cost-effective and competitive," Zuma said.

The president slammed Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane's question asking if Zuma or any of his family members and associates benefit or stand to benefit from the nuclear deal, saying he "knows of no transaction or anything involving members of [his] family".

Zuma said the nuclear option was not of his own doing, but rather was a decision taken by government.

"Those who are campaigning and saying it will take a lot of money, we will build this within the money we have. I am not saying we are going to take all the money we have and put it there," Zuma said.

"It will bring a lot of money to the country when completed. Those protesting only deal with the issue of building but the fact is that thereafter, it will produce and bring dividends and profits for many thousand years to come."

He denied that the deal is going to push the agenda of any country, especially Russia.

However, Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi reportedly told a delegation at a nuclear conference in Moscow on Wednesday that the deal would be awarded to the "most experienced people who have a track record".

Kubayi reportedly met Russian Energy minister Alexander Novak and Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev during her visit. Rosatom is a Russian state company believed to be the strongest contender for the award of the nuclear contract.

The nuclear build programme was dealt a blow by the Cape Town High Court after Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities' Environmental Institute successfully challenged the way in which the state determined the country's nuclear power needs. The plan would have seen South Africa purchasing 9 600 megawatts of extra nuclear power.

The programme is expected to cost the country around R1 trillion.