Energy Minister David Mahlobo is reportedly forging ahead with government’s nuclear power plans.
City Press reports that, officials in Mahlobo’s department are working weekends to finalise the country’s reviewed integrated energy resource plan, four months ahead of schedule.
This after President Jacob Zuma told MPs on Thursday, a nuclear deal for South Africa was still on the table.
The papers reports that, the plan to determine the energy mix the country needs was expected to be finalised in February next year, but will now be finished in the next two weeks.
This would reportedly enable Mahlobo – who was appointed energy minister on October 17 in a Cabinet reshuffle – to make projections of the country’s future energy demands based on “empirical evidence”.
Since his appointment to the post, there has been wide spread speculation there was renewed pressure from the Russian Federation to fast track the controversial nuclear build programme, which is estimated to cost taxpayers a massive R1 trillion.
However, the Presidency denied claims Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet after meeting a delegation from the Russian government.
While the Russian embassy in Pretoria said it was “highly disappointed to see yet another example of sensationalism and fake news in South African press, especially, in an evident attempt to emulate the worst kind of groundless anti-Russian attacks by some of the global mainstream media.”
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told City Press last week that nuclear energy was neither affordable for the sluggish economy, nor immediately necessary. The paper reports that this could set Mahlobo on a collision course with Gigaba and Treasury.
Mahlobo told the paper that government should not be “reckless”, however, energy was central to the country’s security and should not only be treated as an economic issue.