Former President Jacob Zuma has opened up about the nuclear deal he tried to foster with Russia during his second term in office. He has claimed that the agreement – despite its monstrous cost – would have helped prevent the mass schedules of load shedding we have seen in the last week.
In an interview with Business Day, the ex-leader reasoned that South Africa must now spend trillions on fixing Eskom anyway, and that nuclear would have meant “spending trillions for a shorter amount of time, eventually making us more trillions”.
South Africa’s nuclear deal with Russia
The deal was estimated to be worth R1.2 – R1.4 trillion and would allow Russia to build power plants on multiple sites in South Africa. However, questions have been raised about the allegedly dodgy deal, which would have accounted for more than half of SA’s debt at the time.
Claims that the deal with Russia would have been beneficial for Mzansi have been denied by both Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene. In fact, it was the former Finance Minister Nene who gave us one of the most dramatic moments of the state capture inquiry towards the end of last year.
Jacob Zuma claims going nuclear could have saved SA
Nene was the last signature required to take South Africa past “the point of no return” with the nuclear deal. He refused to commit and told the inquiry that this “insubordination” eventually got him fired.
JZ told the publication that his plans with the Russians would have solved the energy crisis “once and for all”, suggesting that the debts would eventually pay for themselves once the plants were online:
“The fact of the matter is nuclear could solve our problems, once and for all. Now we are in deep, we are therefore increasing the debt of the country with no hope to bring it down. That’s a problem.”
“Nuclear, we could have got into whatever expenses but we’d be able, even through it, to have more funds to pay our debts.”
Zuma and corruption
The question remains: What will Russia do now South Africa is effectively reneging on the deal? Jacob Zuma seemed very calm discussing this issue, and definitely doesn’t fear Vladimir Putin will send the boys down to Nkandla.
Msholozi was only full of praise for Russia, saluting them for their help during the liberation struggle. He thanked the largest country on the planet for providing “shelter and training” to his ANC comrades in the late 20th century, and rubbished suggestions this deal was “corrupt”.
“I don’t know how many times people have said Zuma is corrupt. They have not produced [proof of] a single cent of that nature. It’s just propaganda, clear propaganda.”
“They would not come for us. They would understand, we would have an agreement to work out another arrangement. We know they [Russia] are trusted people. We know they will never sink us, they will lift us.”
Zuma may well be forgetting that he’s been uncovered as the lynchpin of state capture, is currently facing corruption charges for trying to illegally broker an arms deal, has been accused of taking bribes from underworld bosses, and has also been revealed as one of Bosasa’s captured politicians.
Not even the most well-oiled propaganda machine could make all that up.