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Nuclear plan still needs to get past Ramaphosa, Gordhan

Jan 15 2016 16:36

Cape Town – After Treasury eventually gives an indication of the nuclear energy finance model, the 9 600 MW programme will still need to be approved by a committee chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

That is according to BizNews editor Alec Hogg in his special analysis, Nenegate: Zuma’s R500bn blunder.

The special edition details and analyses the events before and after President Jacob Zuma replaced Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister with the weekend-special David van Rooyen, which had a disastrous effect on the rand and the country’s economy.

Procurement programme

“On 10 December, hundreds of billions of rand are wiped off the value of banking and financial shares and the battered currency, the rand, goes into freefall losing around 5% of its value,” the book explains.

Three days later, Pravin Gordhan was reappointed to his old position as finance minister to calm the markets.

According to the report, the two issues that were raised when Nene was fired was his stance against South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni and his lack of eagerness to push ahead with the nuclear procurement programme.

Hogg explains how Gordhan’s reappointment gave him tremendous power to stand up to Zuma on the same issues that Nene had with SAA and nuclear.

“Having been forced on Zuma by the market, Gordhan will be hard if not impossible to dislodge,” he said. “But to retain the confidence of investors, Gordhan will need to show that he intends using his new-found power.

“Just days after taking office, he put Myeni firmly in her place by re-imposing the Nene directive on SAA,” said Hogg. “This time there was barely a squeak from Zuma’s close friend. But that can only be the first step. The dysfunctional directorate needs to be replaced if SAA is to have any chance of escaping its role as a continued drain on the taxpayer.”

Business community

Hogg said some people have doubts that Gordhan will repeat Nene’s firm stance on nuclear energy. “But that underestimates the man,” he explains. “There are many hoops still to be jumped through. The question of financing or the SA government providing guarantees is some way off.”

“Most critically, the NDP (National Development Plan) explains that the final step in the process will be taken by the National Nuclear Energy Executive Co-Ordinating Committee (NNECC).

“This body is chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, alongside Gordhan one of the few cabinet members who enjoys the confidence of the global business community.

“So it is the committee chaired by Ramaphosa, which will have the final say what the NDP describes as the ‘stop-go’ decision on the SA’s nuclear future ‘especially after actual costs and financing options are revealed.’

“It is when this point is reached that the country’s path will probably be determined once and for all,” said Hogg. “And it is also sure to be a pivotal political moment where the developing nation malaise of politics trumping economics is proved – or not.”

* In Nenegate: Zuma’s R500bn blunder, Alec Hogg provides fresh context on shadowy forces that motivated Zuma's R500bn blunder and whether reinstated Pravin Gordhan can rescue the rand. This Special Report also includes's best Nenegate articles including contributions by RW Johnson, Floyd Shivambu and John Battersby. See here for more.

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