Jacob Zuma’s proposed nuclear deal would have blown the budget, says Lungisa Fuzile
The former Treasury director-general tells the state capture inquiry that buying extra power from Russia would have cost R1-trillion
Former Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile told the state capture inquiry on Monday that if former president Jacob Zuma’s proposed “nuclear deal” had gone through‚ the government would have breached the expenditure ceiling it set for itself.
Fuzile‚ who is testifying before the commission for the second time‚ described a Treasury presentation on the fiscal implications of the nuclear build project.
The nuclear-build programme was dealt a blow in 2018 by the Cape Town high court after Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute successfully challenged the way in which the state determined the country’s nuclear power needs.
The plan would have seen SA purchasing 9‚600MW of extra nuclear power from the Russians at a cost of about R1-trillion.
“We modelled two scenarios. We did the maximum amount that was contemplated, which was 9.6 gigawatts‚ then we also did a smaller scenario predicated on a modularised approach to nuclear, which was 2.4 gigawatts. We made assumptions about the costs per kilowatt. We made assumptions about GDP growth‚” Fuzile said.
He said the Treasury’s assumptions were based on 2% GDP growth per annum — a forecast SA has not been able to accomplish.
“It would have caused our country to breach the expenditure ceiling that government had set for itself,” said Fuzile.
Quoting public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan‚ who was finance minister when the deal was proposed‚ Fuzile said should anything go wrong it would make the arms deal “look like a Sunday school picnic”.
The inquiry’s chair, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, on Monday postponed an application by former finance minister Des van Rooyen to cross-examine Fuzile.
Fuzile previously told the commission that a suspected Gupta family ally who was parachuted into his office as Van Rooyen’s adviser had acted as a law unto himself‚ handing out instructions to senior officials even before Van Rooyen was sworn in in 2015.
He also detailed how after just three minutes of having received a confidential Treasury report‚ Van Rooyen’s advisers had forwarded the document to the Guptas’ business associates.
Lawyers acting on Van Rooyen’s behalf approached Zondo for leave to cross-examine Fuzile and for Van Rooyen to give his own evidence.
However‚ Zondo indicated that after reading Van Rooyen’s statement to the commission last week‚ he had asked for a supplementary affidavit that deals with allegations that the former minister was placed at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound numerous times before he was appointed.
Zondo said it would not be fair for Van Rooyen to proceed with the application to cross-examine Fuzile until his supplementary affidavit was filed.