The energy department on Friday declined to comment on a report that President Jacob Zuma took control of a R1 trillion nuclear deal, negotiated directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and instructed energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to sign it.
“We can’t speak on that. It is unfair that you ask the department for comment,” spokesman Johannes Mokobane said. “The presidency must speak on that particular matter.”
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj could not immediately be reached for comment.
On Friday, the Mail & Guardian quoted an ANC source saying that Zuma took control of the deal, ironed out the details with Putin on the sidelines of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Brazil in July, and finalised it in Moscow last month.
Sources told the newspaper Zuma subsequently instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign the deal on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency conference in Vienna.
It reported that Zuma did not take the ANC’s national executive committee into his confidence on the matter, and only gave details to his most trusted cabinet ministers and MPs.
This week, it was announced that Russia had clinched a deal to build nuclear reactors in South Africa. Some details of the co-operation agreement — to supply as many as eight nuclear plants generating up to 9,6GW of power — were announced in joint statements by the energy department and Russia’s atomic energy corporation, Rosatom.
On Monday, Joemat-Petterson said in a statement the deal was signed on the sidelines of the Vienna conference.
On Thursday, the Democratic Alliance called on government to make details of the deal public. DA leader Helen Zille said the issuing of identical statements made it clear a deal had already been struck with Russia.
She said there had been speculation for months of a “secret deal” between Zuma and Putin around the nuclear build programme. — Sapa