The DA on Tuesday called on newly appointed Energy Minister Jeff Radebe to give government’s undertaking to South Africans that government will not go ahead with the massive R1 trillion nuclear build programme.
This after new Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Monday confirmed that plans to build new nuclear power reactors were still on the cards. He was addressing the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) conference in Pretoria. However, Nene said this would only be done at a pace the country can afford.
In a statement, the DA said the director-general of the Department of Energy, Thabane Zulu, informed MPs during a sitting of parliament’s portfolio committee on energy that the department was preparing a road-map to deal with nuclear.
According to the DA, Zulu apparently claimed that he would not be surprised if nuclear was part of the new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) since nuclear was part of the department’s energy policy.
The DA said he had hoped that the removal of Radebe’s predecessor, David Mahlobo, by President Cyril Ramaphosa signalled the death knell of the nuclear deal, but this has not been the case.
“It now seems the door has been left open to go ahead with the nuclear deal. This would be a slap in the face for every South African who believed President Ramaphosa when he promised a ‘new dawn’ for our country.”
“It also gives credence to allegations in the public domain that it wasn’t just ‘Zupta’ politicians who benefited from illegal kickbacks in return for a nuclear deal,” the party said.
Speaking in January during a media briefing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ramaphosa said the country had excess power right now and there was no money to build nuclear plants.
The DA said a report compiled by academics and researchers into state capture – “Betraying The Promise: How South Africa Is Being Stolen” – released in May 2017 had alleged that the ANC received R1 billion for its 2016 local election campaign in return for a nuclear deal.
And should it be found that the ANC benefited from illegal kickbacks, “then it will be much more difficult for President Ramaphosa to renege on whatever promises have been made.”
“Indeed, the continued prevarication from ANC Ministers and government officials does nothing to quell the rumours that continue to swirl around nuclear procurement. The new Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe, has been very quiet since assuming office last week. The time has come for him to break his silence by unequivocally and unambiguously rejecting the nuclear deal.”