Ramaphosa signals his opposition to nuclear plant

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa tells media at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Swtizerland that South Africa cannot afford nuclear power.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa tells media at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Swtizerland that South Africa cannot afford nuclear power.
Image: GCIS

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday signalled his opposition to President Jacob Zuma's plans to build new nuclear plants.

Ramaphosa, who led Team South Africa's trip to Davos in an attempt to woo investors, said that the country has more than enough power.

"We have excess power right now and we have no money to go for a major nuclear plant building," Ramaphosa told reporters in Davos.

Ramaphosa's comments are seen as a blow to Energy Minister David Mahlobo who has insisted nuclear energy is in the country's future plans.

Mahlobo also said, in November, that critics of government's plans on nuclear energy could not simply wish them away.

In his medium term budget, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba also said that the country could not afford nuclear energy.

"Over the next five years, SA will not be able to afford nuclear energy because the economy is growing too slowly. We can’t afford it, we have excess electricity. The budget can’t afford it and the country can’t afford it," Gigaba was quoted on BusinessLIVE.

Ramaphosa, who could replace Jacob Zuma as president within weeks, told investors at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. in Davos that "a new mood" had emerged in South Africa.

Ramaphosa took over from Zuma as head of the ruling ANC party in December, and Zuma is under increasing pressure to resign from the presidency.

Ramaphosa, a wealthy former businessman, said that international investors had welcomed his message that a "new era that has been unleashed in South Africa."

"They are wishing us everything of the best -- that we keep to course and follow through with the changes and reforms," he told reporters.

Under Zuma, South Africa has suffered slow growth and record unemployment, with the government engulfed by corruption scandals.

"We are now going to go to the depths of what corruption has been taking place in our state-owned enterprises, I think that is a huge plus," Ramaphosa said.

He said a new graft enquiry and South Africa's criminal justice system would work in parallel "identifying those who have committed wrong and making sure they are brought to book".

Ramaphosa, who has been deputy president since 2014, is looking to revive the economy before elections next year that come amid falling public support for ANC.

He earlier told AFP that the transition of political power in South Africa would be handled "delicately, very carefully", without giving any timeline.

"We are talking, we are exchanging views," he said.

Additional reporting by Kgothatso Madisa.

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