Majola to MPs: You're so obsessed with Putin, you probably dream about him

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP)

Cape Town – Deputy Minister of Energy Thembisile Majola urged opposition party MPs in the National Assembly to resist indulging their “obsession” with the now-shelved nuclear build programme and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.

Speculation went into overdrive that government was preparing to pursue nuclear after Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said, ahead of his budget vote on Wednesday, that nuclear energy remained a part of his department’s energy mix plans.

Radebe also served as acting president while tabling his budget vote, as President Cyril Ramaphosa is in Geneva, Switzerland, to co-chair an International Labour Organisation commission. Deputy President David Mabuza is in Russia to congratulate Putin on getting re-elected.

Radebe said his department would require a quarter of the $100bn Ramaphosa has aimed to collect from foreign states and investors to kick-start South Africa’s economic revival, which would go towards some of the energy department’s projects.

Tabling his budget vote, Radebe made no mention of nuclear energy, but said the department would open the revised Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for consultation with the public.

"This will bring much-needed certainty on the country's energy infrastructure build programme, and also restore confidence that South Africa is well prepared to supply reliable energy to grow the economy," said Radebe.

Radebe said consultation on the IRP and IEP would be done, with the aim of submitting the policy-adjusted IEP, IRP, Liquid Fuels and Gas Master Plans to Cabinet by August 2018 for approval. However, opposition MPs were not mollified by the efforts to provide clarity or certainty.

Democratic Alliance MP Kevin Mileham challenged the deputy minister, in Radebe’s absence, to say before the House that government would not pursue the nuclear build programme, which was declared invalid by courts in 2016.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Khonziwe Hlonyana said if government continued to provide electricity with a view to extracting profit before developing the economy, their efforts would be at the expense of South Africans.

A mystified Majola dismissed the MPs’ concerns by saying government would consult with the public before finalising its IRP, IEP and energy mix policy.

“I don’t understand why there are questions about nuclear and Russia and Putin. If the members would like to know about Putin, they are welcome to meet with him themselves. You are so obsessed with Putin that you probably even dream about him,” Majola chided.

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