Speaking to Times Select in an exclusive interview published on Friday, 22 March 2019, former President Jacob Zuma said the nuclear offer from Russia was in South Africa’s best interests.
During his tenure as president, Jacob Zuma had lobbied for a proposed R1 trillion nuclear energy deal with Russia, but the deal never materialised due to rejection from ministers, including former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. In the wake of the prolonged load shedding period, former President Jacob Zuma has defended his Russia nuclear deal lobby.
In an exclusive interview with Times Select published on Friday, 22 March 2019, Jacob Zuma said the nuclear deal would have been in the best interests of the country.
“The fact of the matter is nuclear could solve our problems, once and for all. Now we are in deep [trouble]. We are therefore increasing the debt of the country with no hope to bring it down. That’s a problem,” he said.
This referring to the recent news that the New Development Bank, backed by BRICS, was in talks of loaning approximately R11.2 billion to South Africa to mitigate the power supply problem.
The former president also expressed that during his tenure, nuclear energy proposals were very limited. He maintained that Russia’s proposal had South Africa’s best interests prioritised. He also spoke of Russia’s generosity towards the country.
“Russia carried the biggest load in supporting us. Russia looked after our health‚ they never charged us a penny. So, we cannot‚ when we are now free‚ forget about people who were our friends at the time of need‚” he added.
The load shedding, which has been fluctuating between Stages 2 and 4 since Friday, 15 March 2019, has sent the nation in panic as the blackouts have caused unbearable traffic and has disrupted the economy. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan expressed that the road to recovery is long, emphasising that the country would not be fixed overnight.
“It’s going to be a huge struggle ahead … to actually overcome this crisis. We’ll get it right in the next year or two,” he said.