President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/MUJAHID SAFODIEN
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/MUJAHID SAFODIEN

The DA wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to reveal whether he supported the 2015 cabinet decision to issue the request for proposals for the nuclear build programme.

However, the president has refused to say whether he raised concerns in the December 9 2015 meeting, saying cabinet discussions are confidential.

DA MP David Maynier has now made an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), for access to the declassified cabinet meeting minutes. This follows testimony by former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene at the commission of inquiry into state capture earlier this month.

Nene said he believed that he was fired because he refused to sign off on certain projects, such as the nuclear build programme. Parts of the cabinet meeting minutes dealing with the nuclear build programme have been declassified for the commission.

The minutes show the executive had approved the energy department’s nuclear proposal without a feasibility study or a phased approach to procurement. Ramaphosa was deputy president at the time.

Maynier has sent parliamentary questions to Ramaphosa asking whether he had attended the 2015 cabinet meeting and, if so, whether he supported the decision to request proposals. Maynier also wanted to know if Ramaphosa intended to give evidence at the state-capture inquiry on his role with regards to the decision-making around the government’s proposed nuclear build programme. 

In his response to Maynier, Ramaphosa confirmed that he was at the meeting, in his capacity as deputy president.

‘‘It was at this meeting that a decision was made to issue a request for proposals for a nuclear new-build programme, and at which it was also agreed that any decision to proceed further with a nuclear build programme would take place after the request for proposals process had been completed and a final funding model developed,’’ he said. 

Ramaphosa also said cabinet discussions are confidential but that all executive members are bound by decisions taken, irrespective of their personal views. ‘‘I have publicly stated that I am available to give evidence at the commission of inquiry into state capture should the commission deem it necessary.’’ 

Maynier, however, was not satisfied with the president’s answer. 

‘‘We need to know whether President Cyril Ramaphosa had the courage to oppose the nuclear build programme, and do what was right for the country, or whether he supported the nuclear build programme, and did what was right for himself, ahead of the governing party’s elective conference in SA,’’ he said.

Maynier accused Ramaphosa of being evasive, as the minutes had already been declassified for the purpose of the state-capture inquiry, so this should not have stopped Ramaphosa from providing the information requested by the DA.