Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba is reportedly slamming the brakes on the planned R1-trillion nuclear project, which he called unaffordable and unnecessary.
The City Press reported that Gigaba plans to mend the South African economy by addressing “senior civil servants’ salaries and selling chunks of state-owned enterprises”.
“There was a time when it was felt that nuclear is necessary and it must be implemented, and programmes were started,” said Gigaba.
“But it became clear, as the economy took a serious dip, that we were not going to afford nuclear, that the country couldn’t afford it and the budget couldn’t afford it.”
He said South Africa can meet its electricity needs, given the current excess electricity supply the country has.
Gigaba at risk
There is speculation that President Jacob Zuma may replace Gigaba as finance minister, due to his reluctance to implement the nuclear programme.
Zuma recently appointed David Mahlobo as energy minister, replacing Mmamoloko Kubayi – who was reportedly not doing enough to push the nuclear deal through.
Mahlobo previously said South Africa’s decision to move ahead with plans for nuclear power were based on ensuring the energy supply going forward.
Last week, the Sunday Times reported that a team acting on orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin met Zuma just before he replaced Kubayi.
According to the report, Putin’s team told Zuma to “speed up and conclude” a multibillion-dollar nuclear deal with Russia.
The report stated that Mahlobo was chosen by the Russians after Zuma indicated he wanted Faith Muthambi for the energy job.