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Zuma: No mixed messages on govt’s stance on nuclear energy

President Zuma says more energy is needed to avoid load-shedding.

President Jacob Zuma answers questions in the National Assembly on 2 November 2017. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma says there are no mixed messages on government’s stance on nuclear energy, adding that it’s all about the timing.

He was pressed in the National Assembly on Thursday to explain whether South Africa was entering into a nuclear deal and how the country would afford it.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane wanted to know why government appears hell bent on pursuing nuclear energy.

“The Integrated Resource Plan that was tabled indicates that energy demand in South Africa has in fact declined, yet you seem to be obsessed with tying us into an energy deal.”

President Zuma says more energy is needed to avoid load-shedding.

“Firstly, I’m not obsessed about energy in South Africa. There’s a need for energy.”

He says that South Africa needs to reduce carbon emissions more than any other country on the continent.

“We have a policy of mixed energy, which includes nuclear.”

A QUESTION OF TIMING

Zuma also moved to defend apparent contradictory statements by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and Energy Minister David Mahlobo on the controversial issue.

While Gigaba has said the country doesn't have the money, Mahlobo has been emphatic that government will do so at a pace that it can afford.

Zuma says there's no disagreement on government's stance on nuclear energy and it's all a question of timing.

“We have a promise that is standing, that we’re building it. We’ve been discussing it and saying we’re going to deal with it in a particular manner.”

Zuma added: “We have a policy of mixed energy and that includes nuclear. We are not saying we have changed policy ... Its a question of timing, when do we do it. We have been discussing that issue all the time in the government.”

Additional reporting by Pelane Phakgadi & Reuters.