A team acting on orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly met President Jacob Zuma just before his surprise cabinet reshuffle.
Several ministers were removed or transferred to new departments in the reshuffle – including David Mahlobo being made the new minister of energy.
According to the Sunday Times, Putin’s team told Zuma to “speed up and conclude a multibillion-dollar nuclear deal with Russia”.
Hours after the meeting, the cabinet reshuffle took place.
“Their visit was to deliver what many of us believe to be the final warning to the South African authorities. This group does not normally leave Russia. These are members of the military, the police, and the intelligence,” a source told the newspaper.
“Mahlobo was chosen by the Russians.”
The report stated that Mahlobo was chosen by the Russians after Zuma indicated he wanted Faith Muthambi for the energy job.
The Russians convinced Zuma to consider Mahlobo for the position – which was given to him without the approval of the ANC top six.
Several ANC members have warned that the move could destabilise the government and South Africa.
Following Mahlobo’s appointment, the new energy minister said South Africa will move ahead with nuclear power.
“South Africa recognises the role of nuclear power in ensuring security of energy supply and meeting the challenge of climate change,” he said.
“South Africa has made a policy decision to pursue nuclear energy as part of the energy mix.”