Declassified cabinet minutes show that Jacob Zuma’s government decided to keep the costs of the proposed nuclear deal with Russia secret until it was done and dusted, and the procurement process completed. The minutes are part of evidence public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan submitted to the commission of inquiry into state capture last week. They deal with the cabinet meeting of December 9 2015, at which the programme was approved. The nuclear build was a pet project of the former president, who after the meeting fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene for refusing to back it. Zuma also had energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson sign an intergovernmental agreement with Russia in which SA agreed that the latter would build the plants. A memorandum attached to the minutes, and prepared by department of energy deputy director-general Zizamele Mbambo, also shows that the project would cost more than the R500bn he had estimated publicly. Excluding financing, the cost would range betw...

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