A nuclear deal for South Africa is still on the table, President Jacob Zuma told MPs on Thursday, despite Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) saying the country could not afford it at the moment.

During his question-and-answer session in the National Assembly, Zuma was asked about Gigaba and newly appointed Energy MInister David Mahlobo possibly clashing, with the latter remarking after the MTBPS that government remained committed to expanding its nuclear energy programme.

The president said for Gigaba, who holds the country’s purse strings, it was a question of when South Africa would be in a financial position to acquire new nuclear capacity. The question of timing, did not mean the two ministers were clashing, said Zuma. 

“You can’t say if they speak about timing, say they are disagreeing,” he said.

“We know what we are doing. We have a policy of mixed energy which includes nuclear. What the two ministers were talking about, they were not saying we change policy. They were talking about how do we implement this particular decision.”

South Africa was planning to add 9,600 megawatts of electricity to the grid through nuclear plants, despite pushback from opposition parties and civil society.

African News Agency