The Deputy Minister of Energy, Thembisile Majola, told Parliament today that the new Cabinet is reconsidering the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that the old Cabinet approved in December last year.
This is the clearest indication yet that President Cyril Ramaphosa may reject former President Jacob Zuma’s planned nuclear build programme.
Ms. Majola told the Portfolio Committee on Energy that Minister Jeff Radebe had requested the IRP to be “re-processed” and taken back to Cabinet because “certain things were not done”. It is unfortunate that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee would not allow the DA to pose questions as to what these “certain things” were.
We are therefore left to speculate as to whether the new Cabinet is rejecting the old Cabinet’s IRP because of the inclusion of new nuclear investment in it. Indeed, last week the Director-General of the Energy Department, Thabane Zulu, himself speculated that new nuclear would remain part of the energy mix going forward.
Given the need for certainty in the energy sector, it is time Minister Radebe made a clear and unambiguous statement on the status of the IRP that was approved by Cabinet in December. In particular, he must tell the public once and for all whether the building of new nuclear power stations features in government’s energy plans.
The fact is that we cannot afford a R1.2 trillion nuclear deal and the sooner the project is squashed, the better. If President Ramaphosa is to deliver on his promise of a “new deal” he has no choice but to reject the nuclear deal.