Mahlobo warns against speculating on new ministerial role

David Mahlobo is the same person who reportedly travelled with Zuma to Russia in 2014 to meet President Vladimir Putin.

FILE: Minister David Mahlobo. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - New Energy Minister David Mahlobo has warned against speculating about his recent appointment.

President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday saw State Security Minister Mahlobo moved to the Energy Ministry and Bongani Bongo taking over State Security.

Mahlobo's appointment has heightened speculation that Zuma is trying to push through the nuclear deal with Russia before his term ends in 2019, a deal that is set to benefit him and his family.

Mahlobo says that nuclear energy is being used not only for electricity.

“We have nuclear here currently in Koeberg [Power Station] and a facility in Pretoria. We’re actually leading in terms of using nuclear isotopes so that we’re able to do advancements in terms of human sciences and contribution to health. We’re actually among the top six in the world.”

The new Energy Minister says he has made his mandate made very clear.

“If you look at all these big countries and economies, energy is the biggest input. One of the things we need to do is to ensure there’s energy in this country, whether is it petroleum, electricity, gas or nuclear and that it is sustainable.”

LISTEN: Will new Energy Minister Mahlobo push for nuclear deal?

He says that sustainability and affordability are also very important as South Africa strives to be the leader in using its natural endowment to contribute to the economic growth.

Asked if the country really needs nuclear power, Mahlobo said: “It’s not a question of whether we need nuclear power, South Africa is already using an energy mix. All other nations advancing are using nuclear and gas.”

The nuclear deal is apparently something that President Zuma has been working on for years.

Mahlobo is the same person who reportedly travelled with Zuma to Russia in 2014 to meet President Vladimir Putin.

Cabinet reshuffle

Touching on his visit to Russia, Mahlobo says he’s been to many other countries with Zuma and there is nothing untoward about that trip.

“Remember it is not only the Russians who put the request for information [in the nuclear deal], why are you not mentioning the French, the Chinese and many other countries?”

Former Energy Minister Mmamaloko Kubayi was supposed to fast-track the deal after Tina Joemat-Pettersson was sacked in March but critics say the minister probably moved too slowly.

Now that Mahlobo is Energy Minister, he may speed up the process of securing the nuclear contract with Russia.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema says that the pattern is clear.

“We must not be fooled, he is chasing the nuclear deal in energy.”

Zuma's son Duduzane and the controversial Gupta-owned Shiva Uranium and Gold mine is set to be a key beneficiary of the nuclear deal.