Financial Mail - - EDITORIALS -

There was a re­veal­ing con­fir­ma­tion last week of just how im­por­tant the in­fa­mous nu­clear deal was to for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. For years, in­sid­ers had tit­tered that the con­tracts around the mooted R1-tril­lion nu­clear deal were a cen­tral mo­ti­va­tor for many of the baf­fling ac­tions taken by Zuma.

Last week, dur­ing the Zondo state capture in­quiry, for­mer deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas de­scribed how his boss, fi­nance min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene, had been fired be­cause he’d re­fused to sign off on the nu­clear deal. Clearly, Nene had been the ob­sta­cle to the cav­al­cade of ea­ger Rus­sians who vis­ited Zuma, pop­ping their cham­pagne corks in ex­pec­ta­tion of gar­gan­tuan con­tracts.

So in this con­text, the news that SA has re­jected new nu­clear ca­pac­ity in favour of cleaner, re­new­able en­ergy is just an­other wel­come sym­bolic line that has been drawn un­der the Zuma years.

The new In­te­grated Re­source Plan says that re­new­able en­ergy should make up 26% of SA’S power. By 2030, wind power should make up 15% of the al­lo­ca­tion, then so­lar (10%) and gas (16%).

Though there is still some reliance on coal, this new re­sources plan is quite a rad­i­cal de­par­ture from the in­stincts of Zuma’s en­ergy min­is­ters. It’s a wel­come vin­di­ca­tion for those who ques­tioned the ho­cus-pocus maths that was hauled out dur­ing Zuma’s ten­ure to jus­tify nu­clear.

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