The Mercury

Zuma nuke deal denied

- Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

THE Department of Energy has denied reports that the first nuclear deal has gone to a close family friend of President Jacob Zuma.

The department said yesterday that the process to build nuclear power plants would start after it had issued the Request for Proposals on September 30.

The country expects to build six to eight nuclear reactors by 2030, with the first power plant planned to go live in 2023.

But anti-nuclear lobby groups have said this was not possible as it took up to 10 years to commission and build a single nuclear power plant.

The department’s deputy director-general for nuclear energy, Zizamele Mbambo, said the process to build nuclear power plants had not yet started.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament two weeks ago, during question time to ministers in the economics cluster, that the request for proposals would go out on September 30.

This was reiterated by Mbambo yesterday in his dismissal of the reports that a close family friend of Zuma had clinched a R171 million nuclear deal.

“The department reiterates that the procuremen­t process for the new nuclear build programme of 9 600MW nuclear power has not commenced, but will commence upon the issuance of the Request for Proposals for the nuclear power, as directed by the cabinet,” said Mbambo.

He said that current procuremen­t processes were the result of feasibilit­y studies.

The department had listed a number of firms it enlisted to conduct feasibilit­y studies to help the government make an informed decision on the programme.

He said the cabinet had mandated the department of energy as the procuring agency for the programme.

“The government remains committed to ensuring energy security for the country, through the roll-out of the nuclear build programme as an integral part of the energy mix (programme),” he said.

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