In it, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says former President Jacob Zuma was insistent the country needed to enter into a nuclear deal.
FILE: Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: EWN.
CAPE TOWN – Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has detailed the behind-the-scenes machinations for government to procure more nuclear energy.
It’s contained in a statement that Gordhan is expected to deliver to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture next week.
It was leaked to the media overnight.
As the Finance Minister at the time, Gordhan says he warned Zuma that the process had to be above board to avoid another arms-deal scandal.
Gordhan says it was at a meeting at the presidential residence with Zuma and one of his advisors Senti Thobejane in 2013, that the former president made it clear he wanted South Africa to procure nuclear power.
Gordhan says he was not told ahead of the meeting what would be discussed, but he impressed on Zuma that costs, choice of supplier, due process and likely challenges should all be considered.
He says Treasury raised concerns with a draft agreement with Russia because of the firm fiscal commitments it aimed to enforce.
During his tenure as Finance Minister, Gordhan says Treasury officials insisted that proper evaluations of the true cost of nuclear power, and financial risks to the country be carried out.
He says once he was moved to the portfolio of Cooperative Governance, he was no longer privy to discussions around the nuclear deal.
Gordhan says he was also not present at the Cabinet meeting in December 2015 when the deal was approved.
But he points out that it was on the same day that Zuma announced Gordhan’s successor as Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, would be replaced by Des van Rooyen. A move that sent markets and the local currency into a tailspin and culminated in Gordhan’s reappointment to the post just three days later.
(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)