Cape Town - “I am not obsessed with energy. There’s a need for energy. We’ve just come from load-shedding and we needed to stop it.”
This is how President Jacob Zuma responded to a question from Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane on clarification whether the country is following through with a nuclear build programme, despite indications that it’s not affordable.
“You seem to be obsessed with nuclear,” Maimane said, pointing out that Finance Minister Gigaba and Energy Minister David Mahlobo were contradicting each other about the pursuit of nuclear energy.
“On the same day that Minister Gigaba said the country cannot afford nuclear, the energy minister said the opposite. Who must we believe?” Maimane said.
Zuma responded by saying South Africa remains committed to a policy of mixed energy, which includes nuclear.
“We face climate change. And South Africa is the one country on the continent that needs to reduce (carbon) emissions. We know what we’re doing. We have a policy of mixed energy which includes nuclear. What the two ministers were talking about – they did not change policies – they were talking about how to implement this particular decision,” Zuma explained.
“The finance minister handles the purse. It (nuclear) is a matter of timing. The two ministers were not contradicting each other. It’s about when do we start. That’s what they were talking about.”
Zuma said it is quite normal for a finance minister to say “there’s not enough money”.
“There’s nothing strange about that.”
Fin24 earlier reported that Mahlobo has told his department to conclude the Integrated Resource Plan, which will serve as South Africa’s blueprint for future energy needs, by the end of November.
This has raised concerns that the document will be rushed through in an attempt to fast-track the procurement of nuclear energy.
Mahlobo was appointed energy minister early in October during a surprise Cabinet reshuffle.
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