Johannesburg - Energy Minister David Mahlobo on Monday downplayed analysts’ fears of the rand tumbling if Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is elected as ANC president, saying the markets will soon stabilise from any potential “shock”.
“Well, I can’t speculate about currency but I know that speculators have an important role. I understand economic intelligence and I understand economics," Mahlobo told the media at Nasrec. "It is OK that people have to speculate, but the reality is that this is internal ANC democracy at work.”
Voting for the ANC’s Top Six positions went on straight through the night and an announcement about the results is expected later on Monday.
The rand advanced to a three-month high on Monday morning as traders bet that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa would clinch the top job at the ANC’s national conference, after he received more nominations on Sunday than Dlamini-Zuma.
Mahlobo responded to a question about the nuclear deal, saying Cabinet has endorsed the revised Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which will detail the size and timelines of a nuclear programme.
“Energy must stimulate the economy, it’s not the other way around,” he said, repeating the government line that implementation will be done at a pace and scale the country can afford.
Mahlobo however didn’t reveal when the revised IRP will be made public. His predecessor Mmamoloko Kubayi promised to publish the revised IRP by March 2018, and there was much speculation that it could be released this week.
He said Cabinet has opted for an energy mix. “You guys don’t move ahead, one day I will wake up, after I’ve consulted the department and government. I will say I’m moving with this so much renewables, I’m moving with so much coal, I’m moving with so much uranium which is nuclear, and so much gas.”
The energy minister promised the procurement process for the multi-billion rand deal will be an “open, fair, transparent and competitive process”.
TreasuryOne said on Monday afternoon the market was still pricing a Cyril Ramaphosa victory at the ANC conference, with the rand trading at R12.8200 to tbe US dollar.
"We are still awaiting the official results from Nasrec, in all likelihood only to come out some time this evening. If Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma wins, the currency market will have some whiplash and we could see the ZAR a lot weaker."
Mahlobo, who has been seen as a strong ally of Zuma, refused to reveal which ANC presidential candidate he voted for during the overnight process at Nasrec.
“Remember the vote is secret - campaign managers have been sweating, they’ve been working very hard, and it’s a new thing in the ANC.”
Mahlobo on Saturday was seen talking intently to Mpumalanga chairperson and deputy presidential candidate David Mabuza in the main plenary hall. He was also singing on stage, along with delegates marching around the hall in support of Dlamini-Zuma.
He promised to respect the outcome of the ballot, regardless of the winner.
“Electing leaders of the ANC whatever views I held before the conference, ultimately when the delegates have decided, I will respect that decision,” he said.
Mahlobo also praised Zuma, saying he had tried his best as ANC president for 10 years.
“As all of us, as human beings, there were shortcomings. It’s part of a normal way of judging people, but even the manner in which his last words to the conference were received, [the hall] gave a standing ovation.”