New evidence from the public protector suggests that ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe asked EFF leader Julius Malema to help stop the nuclear deal, because it will crush the country economically.
The Rapport newspaper reported that Malema made the statement in an interview with former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Malema said Mantashe asked him to stop President Jacob Zuma’s nuclear plans during coalition negotiations between the ANC and the EFF.
Mantashe allegedly told Malema the costs of the nuclear deal could result in an economic meltdown.
Mantashe said the Russians had a deal with Zuma and the Guptas, and that they paid upfront for the deal to happen.
This is the reason Zuma and his partners are under so much pressure to get the deal through, stated the report.
Mantashe has denied Malema’s version of events and said he was never asked about the nuclear deal.
South Africa’s controversial nuclear programme
South Africa’s new nuclear programme would effectively see three or four nuclear power stations built either near Koeberg or Jeffrey’s Bay in the Eastern Cape.
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson recently told Parliament that her department would release its request for proposals on 30 September, which would “test the market”.
It originally planned to release this at the end of March, after Cabinet published a Gazette in December 2015 to allow the process to proceed.
Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) and Earthlife Africa are engaged in legal proceedings against the Department over agreements signed with Russia’s nuclear firm Rosatom ahead of the official procurement process.
Legal documents indicate South Africa did sign a nuclear deal with Russia, the group claims.
It said “the Russian agreement was entered into unlawfully, but makes (an) internationally-binding commitment to buy a fleet of nuclear reactors from Russia”.
“We have clear evidence that nuclear is now the most expensive and unwise form of energy, particularly in South Africa with the best of renewable energy resources in the world,” said Safcei.
“For more than five years, our letters to President Jacob Zuma have been unanswered and unacknowledged.”
Joemat-Pettersson’s announcement of the release of the request for proposals was “ill advised”, said Gordon Mackay, DA spokesperson on energy.
He cited the case above of “procedural irregularity”, which is currently before the high court in the Western Cape.
Mackay said it was worrying as South Africa “enters the so-called ratings season, which will determine SA’s credit rating come year end”.
“The move by the minister will surely undermine attempts by National Treasury to bolster confidence and maintain a stable credit rating.”
These issues would be made clearer if the Department of Energy updated its Integrated Resource Plan – which has not been published since 2010. It should be published every two years.
Professor Anton Eberhard, who advises the government on energy policy, said the programme will be an unnecessary financial burden on the country.
He called for the power sector to be restructured, with a focus on independent power producers and renewable energy.