Former president Jacob Zuma says a proposed nuclear deal with Russia, which emerged as a factor behind the firing of two finance ministers and market turmoil during his scandal-hit administration, would have prevented the country’s energy crisis. The R1-trillion estimated cost of the programme — equivalent to about 60% of government expenditure in the 2018/2019 fiscal year — would not have crippled the economy, he insisted, contradicting experts who said that it was neither necessary nor affordable. "We are going to pay trillions of rand because of the problems of energy," he told Business Day in an exclusive interview this week. "But if we went for nuclear, we will be out of spending trillions for a shorter amount of time and we’ll make more trillions. So the truth is the opposite." It is the first time Zuma has publicly acknowledged, confirming accounts by former finance ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan at the Zondo inquiry into state capture, that he was central in tryi...

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