The need for nuclear power to stabilise South Africa’s energy supply has not been taken lightly, the ANC said, adding that the country is suffering under an electricity supply crisis.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa was responding to media reports of President Jacob Zuma’s R1 trillion nuclear power deal with Russia, which has been met with criticism. However, Kodwa maintained that this is merely the implementation of what Zuma had announced in his state of the nation address earlier this year.

Nuclear deal is necessary, says ANC

“If there is anything that could be suspect in the process, let us separate that from the main issue as being a country with a problem of energy. We have a problem of energy supply… Yet when we put together a programme, there is a whole noise about it,” Kodwa stated.

“People are not interested in building a future in the country; people are looking with what they can criticise. Nothing is free or cheap. We have got to take tough decisions. We have to look at what is best for the country.”

Nuclear deal is open to corruption, says DA

Amongst those criticising the deal are DA leader Helen Zille, who has accused Zuma of being “brazen” in his attempts to force the deal through.

“The brazen way in which President Zuma seems to be forcing this deal to go ahead, in spite of spy tapes and the arms deal charges having come back to haunt him, makes two things very clear: he doesn’t respect the constitution and he doesn’t fear the electorate,” she said.

“Here is a Big Man who thinks he is safe from scrutiny and safe from prosecution. The fiscus is his to plunder. Deals are his to manipulate.”

Nuclear deal could ruin the economy

Zille expressed concern that the deal might destroy the economy if it goes through, arguing that affordable solutions are needed to address South Africa’s energy crisis, rather than “a trillion rand ‘legacy’ white elephant that our grandchildren will still be paying off.

“When both the country’s long-term economic blueprints caution against nuclear expansion, and we’re suddenly buying a trillion rand’s worth, alarm bells should be ringing. How on earth does South Africa spend a trillion rand without wrecking our economy and propelling millions of people further into poverty?”

Details on the nuclear deal

On Friday, the M&G reported that Zuma negotiated directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin and instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign the “nuclear partnership agreement” between state-owned Russian nuclear energy giant Rosatom and South Africa’s energy department.

The deal with Rosatom, valued at R560 billion, would see he construction of eight nuclear power plants in South Africa based on Russian VVER reactors,  providing an additional electricity capacity of 9.6 gigawatts of power to the country.

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