News / South Africa

Nkululeko Ncana
2 minute read
23 Jun 2017
5:00 am

Controversial nuclear build goes ahead

Nkululeko Ncana

Earlier this year the High Court in Cape Town set aside the two determinations issued by government which laid the basis for the nuclear procurement.

President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. (Photo: GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma has reaffirmed his government’s position that the controversial nuclear build programme will go ahead despite fears it could bankrupt the country.

“We can’t delay it. It is one of those things that we promised the world. We are going to create a kind of energy that is safe. We are actually implementing our decision on this partly to deliver on energy, but secondly to deal with the global need to not pollute,” Zuma told the National Assembly during his quarterly question-and-answer session.

Zuma said the construction of nuclear power stations, which would add an additional 9 600MW of power at a staggering cost of more than R1 trillion, will go ahead “at a pace and scale that the country can afford”.

He added: “We are working on it. That debate does not go very far. It’s just a protest of people who heard that it creates bombs. We are not creating any bomb.”

The plan, which would see SA engaging in what is believed would be the world’s largest nuclear build programme in decades, was dealt a blow in April when the High Court in Cape Town set aside the two determinations issued by former minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson which laid the basis for the nuclear procurement.

Despite this, Zuma said the nuclear energy programme was part of the country’s energy mix strategy to ensure future energy security.

“The approach of the programme will ensure that the risk of any deviation from constitutionally accepted procurement norms are reduced,” he said.

Zuma denied allegations that the deal was riddled with corruption and insisted that no one from his family has benefited from kickbacks from Russian companies allegedly earmarked to clinch lucrative contracts, should the deal go ahead.

His response was directed at DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who asked Zuma whether his family had received any gratification related to the potential nuclear energy deal.

“I know of no transaction involving members of my family. I know nothing about it … I say it now and I will say it in future,” Zuma responded.

He berated those opposed to the deal, accusing them of failing to see the bigger picture and future benefits of the project.

“We are not saying we are going to take all the money and put it there. But critically, once we have completed that programme, it will bring a lot of money to the country. So it is a one-sided argument to say [we] will spend a lot of money. As we build it, yes, we will have to. The fact is that thereafter it will produce and bring dividends and profits for many thousands of years to come,” Zuma said.

The president also said nuclear energy was the cleanest and most reliable form of power. –