There is no reference to nuclear power procurement in Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba's speech, and no significant new appropriations to the nuclear budget contained in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
A search for the word "nuclear" in the Word document containing Gigaba's first major finance policy speech returns the figure of "0", while the word "electricity" crops up three times and "Eskom" nine times.
Fears have been expressed in various quarters that President Jacob Zuma is determined to press on with a multibillion-dollar nuclear-build programme that seems to be way too expensive for South Africa. The recent appointment of David Mahlobo, a confidant of Zuma's, as minister of energy also seemingly indicated that the nuclear acquisition process will be forced through. Mahlobo is the third minister of energy this year, succeeding Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who was fired in March, and Mmamoloko Kubayi, who was shifted in the most recent cabinet reshuffle.
The High Court in Cape Town earlier this year nullified the nuclear-build programme because of a lack of transparency, consultation and the fact that parliament was not involved.
According to the MTPBS tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, there is only a slight budget adjustment in the department of energy's nuclear programme, with expenditure upped from R786-million to R790-million.
According to Treasury officials, the extra R4-million will be spent on normal operational and administrative costs, including ministerial imbizos, communication and outreach programmes, traveling costs and a donation to the Youth in Nuclear programme.