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South Africa’s Jacob Zuma regime went all out for nuclear power, with secretive manipulations

Necsa’s financial fissures required dealing with the hangover of Zuma’s nuclear push, Daily Maverick, By Marianne Merten• 6 March 2019 

Preparing for the bonanza of a new nuclear build that never came emerged as a key reason for the financial ruptures at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation Ltd (Necsa), Parliament’s energy committee heard on Tuesday.

The impact of the push of former president Jacob Zuma’s administration for nuclear power was highlighted when the Necsa board and officials briefed MPs on its annual report – tabled months after the statutory September deadline in 2018, with 12 disclaimers and doubts over its status as a going concern.

The Jacob Zuma administration, and going big on nuclear with an extra 9,6 GigaWatts, are inextricably linked since his second term after the 2014 elections. And the opposition of National Treasury to the nuclear deal, widely costed at R1-trillion, is at the heart of the politics of State Capture, including the sacking of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 when he refused to endorse a nuclear deal with Russia.

As recently as 18 February 2019 the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard about the behind-the-scenes machinations when former National Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile confirmed earlier testimony from two former finance ministers he had worked with – Nene, and Pravin Gordhan, who today is public enterprises minister.

At one meeting called to discuss the nuclear deal, Fuzile testified as to how Gordhan insisted that “every rule in the book” would have to be followed if the country were to proceed with a nuclear deal.

“He (Gordhan) told him (Zuma) this was important because failure to do that would turn the arms deal problems into a Sunday school picnic.”

But he added at a later stage: “It would seem that people had other interests.”………

At this stage, it is unclear how the Necsa board intents not only to cut the salary bill, but also turn the SOE’s fortunes around. The board has been given a two-month extension to submit its strategic plan by April 2019.

The reality is that there will be no new nuclear build. In July 2018, on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Ramaphosa told Russian President Vladimir Putin there would be no nuclear deal as South Africa could not afford it, as it was widely reported. Feathers were ruffled and smoothed back into place, for now, by all accounts.

But for Necsa, the hangover of the second Zuma administration’s nuclear push must now be dealt with.

March 7, 2019 - Posted by | politics, South Africa

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