Energy Minister Tina Joemat Pettersson

Parliament – South Africa’s proposed nuclear power expansion programme will be scaled according to what the country can afford and will be run in a way that does not allow for corruption, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Wednesday.

The RFP (request for proposal) phase would provide Cabinet with sound information that will enable it to “take a final decision on the best arrangement to implement the nuclear new build programme,” she said as she introduced her department’s budget vote in the National Assembly.

“This would inform the price, affordability, pace and scale of this programme. And, we will only implement what our country can afford. We will ensure that the process is above board and free of any potential for corruption.”

Joemat-Pettersson said government would not rush the processes and would take guidance from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN watchdog on nuclear energy.

Opposition speakers in the debate on the energy vote, said the building of new nuclear plants was economically reckless, while the Economic Freedom Fighters’s Marshall Dlamini charged that the process was already tainted.

“We know it is the Gupta family procuring nuclear power, not the government,” he charged.

The African Christian Democratic Party’s (ACDP) Cheryllyn Dudley cited National Planning Commission member and head of the UCT Graduate School of Business Anton Eberhard’s view that the country could not afford and did not need nuclear power.

“We hope sanity will prevail,” she concluded.

The contested programme is intended to add 9,600MW of nuclear power to the country’s electricity grid by 2030.