Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba met with the World Bank to discuss options to fund the nuclear power programme, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. The meeting reportedly took place last Friday.
Two sources familiar with the meeting reportedly said the fate of embattled South African Airways was also discussed.
Gigaba previously said nuclear was not feasible at the moment. Speaking at an event in Cape Town just after delivering his medium-term budget address, Gigaba reportedly said there would not be money available for the nuclear programme for at least five years, according to Eyewitness News.
"The economy can't afford the nuclear at the present moment. We've got access to electricity, there are no intensive users that are taking up the generation capacity that we have... It is not off the agenda, the country at the present moment can't afford nuclear and the budget also can't. We have 5,700MW of electricity surplus. That's bigger than our biggest power station, Medupi, which is the fourth-largest power station in the world and which, when fully commissioned, will produce 4,800MW," Gigaba reportedly said.
But there is increasing pressure on government to push through the deal -- reportedly a pet project of President Jacob Zuma's -- indicated by the recent appointment of David Mahlobo to the post of energy minister.
City Press reported that Mahlobo's department was working overtime to finish the details of the deal, four months ahead of schedule. The report said that Mahlobo was on a collision course with Gigaba over how to fund the programme.
The World Bank and Gigaba did not respond to Bloomberg's inquiries.