Zwane says he'll support 'collective' on nuclear deal

Pretoria – Despite Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba reportedly slamming the breaks on SA controversial nuclear build programme, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Tuesday said he would follow the lead of the "collective" in supporting the programme.

"I will support any programme of government that we have agreed on in Cabinet. As an individual, I cannot stand against the agreement of the collective. This is the agreement of the collective and I will support the collective," said Zwane.

Zwane was speaking on the sidelines of a bilateral meeting between the Russian and South African governments at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria.

The mineral resources minister said the delegations had not discussed the nuclear deal.

"From where I am standing as a minister, that is part of our programme (as the government), the relevant minister will engage and take the programme forward," he said. 

"Some people are saying this is an elephant in the room, but there is no elephant. There are two countries discussing, like anybody, and if they agree, we will push it."

Zwane said he could not speculate on whether SA and Russia would come to an agreement on a nuclear deal because he was not certain how far the negotiations had gone.

"The Minister of Energy (David Mahlobo) is the most relevant to comment on that aspect but we will support him on whatever he may need from us because we work together."

Minister of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Russian Far East, Alexandra Galushka, said: "There are negotiations conducted regarding [the] nuclear energy and we note that those negotiations are constructive and are ongoing."  

Tuesday's Russia-SA meeting steered clear of anything related to energy. The gathering mainly consisted of South African and Russian business fraternities attempting to woo each other to invest. 

City Press previously reported that officials at the Energy Department have been forced to work overtime, including on weekends, to complete the Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) by November 14, some four weeks ahead of schedule.

READ: Mahlobo rushes nuclear deal

A source told City Press that, "We would be talking February, but now, we are talking November 14."

The report said the IRP, which will determine the energy mix the country needs, was expected to be finalised in February 2018. The nuclear energy plan, if it goes ahead, is expected to cost SA about R1trn.

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