File picture: Nic Bothma/EPA
Cape Town - A confidential document reveals that South Africa’s nuclear-build programme kicks off in earnest in June when Eskom issues a formal request for proposals from companies bidding for the estimated R1 trillion contract, the City Press newspaper reported on Sunday.  

The nuclear deal – for which Russian company Rosatom was widely considered to be the frontrunner – was, according to senior National Treasury officials, “directly related” to President Jacob Zuma’s axing of finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, the newspaper reported.  

“It is well-known that Gordhan was against the project as he said the country couldn’t afford it. Eskom will be issuing a request for proposals in June and that really is the beginning of procurement. Gordhan had to go because he was going to block it again,” a senior official reportedly said.  

The internal Eskom document dated three days before Gordhan and Jonas were axed revealed a tight timeline for the programme that would see four plants built to provide 9600 megawatts of electricity to the country.  

After the request for proposals was issued in June, the deadline for bids was September, for evaluation in December. The winning bidder would be decided in March 2018 and the contract signed between December next year and March 2019, City Press reported. 

The document also revealed that most of the major nuclear contracts would be implemented through “turnkey” procurement, which Treasury officials were concerned about. 

“While Treasury allows for turnkey procurement, we know that it is often used to hide corruption. Companies that are asked to deliver turnkey projects are accountable to themselves. They appoint whoever they like, however they like,” a senior official reportedly said.  

Turnkey projects were when a single company was appointed to manage and deliver an entire project. The management company became responsible for appointing all contractors and service providers. This was different from an open tender that was spread over a range of different contractors appointed by the state, City Press reported. 

African News Agency