Zuma did not interfere in nuclear deal - Dept

2014-09-27 18:09
President Jacob Zuma. (File, AFP)

President Jacob Zuma. (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The energy department on Saturday denied a report that President Jacob Zuma interfered with the nuclear deal with Russia and instructed Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to sign the deal.

"The department wish to refute all allegations of 'undue influence' by the president towards concluding this agreement," the acting director-general of the energy department Wolsey Barnard said in a statement.

"The allegations are baseless and at worst ludicrous, and they are purely concocted in order to tarnish the image and integrity of the president and the government of South Africa."

On Friday, the Mail&Guardian reported that Zuma took control of a R1 trillion nuclear deal, negotiated directly with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign it.

Unnamed sources told the M&G that Zuma instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign the deal on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Vienna.

Some details of the co-operation agreement - with Russia to supply as many as eight nuclear plants generating up to 9.6GW of power - were announced in joint statements by the energy department and Russia's atomic energy corporation, Rosatom issued this week.

Announced suddenly

On Saturday, Barnard said the inter-governmental agreement between Russia and South Africa was signed on 22 September, by Joemat-Pettersson at the IAEA conference.

He said that the department wanted to ensure South Africans and all interested parties that "nothing will be withheld" from them with respect to this agreement.

The department appealed for the necessary legal process to be allowed to run its course in relation to the agreement.

Barnard said this was not the first of such agreements to be signed by the department to enhance "co-operation in different areas of mutual interest".

"South Africa has signed over 60 different energy related co-operation agreements, addressing different aspects of energy and usage of different energy sources," said Barnard.

"The [agreement] is focusing on Russian-technology multipurpose nuclear research, assistance in the development of South-African nuclear infrastructure, education of South African nuclear specialists in Russian universities and other areas."

He said the co-operation agreement and other agreements the department intended on signing were informed by cabinet-approved plans.

Attempts to obtain comment about the agreement from the Presidency on Friday and Saturday were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Beeld reported on Saturday, that Joemat-Pettersson would have to inform Parliament's portfolio committee on energy on the nuclear deal.

"The members of the committee pointed out that the agreement was announced suddenly, without any discussion with the committee. We do not know what the facts are," portfolio committee chairperson Fikile Majola was quoted as saying.

"The matter is in the public domain and we as the review committee must be informed. It is our role."

The next committee meeting is on 13 October, the newspaper reported.

Read more on:    rosatom  |  iaea  |  tina joemat-petterrson  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  sa nuclear deal

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