On Monday, the newly reappointed South African finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, confirmed that government will continue with its nuclear procurement plan, the African News Agency reported.
“There will be a formal procurement process,” Gordhan said at a press conference in Pretoria this week.
With a previous stint in Cabinet, Gordhan was reappointed finance minister on Sunday, following the dismissal of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, which evoked a massive public outcry.
It’s all about the money
Local media reported that Gordhan said the government would not spend more than what it could actually afford.
“We will act in a financially responsible way. We can’t spend money we don’t have,” Gordhan noted.
It has been rumoured that the discharge of Nene was partly due to the former minister’s concerns around the cost of the new nuclear build programme, where he stressed that the country was not in a stable financial situation to support the programme.
Gordhan said that he was aware of Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the nuclear procurement process, however he was not privey to it when it was established on Wednesday—coincidently the same day that Nene was dismissed.
New nuclear build
The new nuclear build programme was rumoured to cost around ZAR1 trillion ($66 billion) and add 9,600MW to the national electricity grid.
In Nene’s mini budget speech in October, he allocated ZAR200 million ($13 million) (R100m in 2016/17 and R100m in 2017/18) for the department of energy to conduct a thorough examination of how much the total cost of developing this programme would cost the country.
In a recent report following the reappointment of Gordhan, President of The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Janine Myburgh commented:
“My big hope is that the tremendous outpouring of support for Mr Nene and now for Mr Gordon will give the right-thinking members of the Cabinet the courage to stand firm and resist being bullied into decisions that they know are not in the best interests of the country.”