Jacob Zuma is insulting the country’s intelligence. The former president, in an interview with Business Day last week, said if the proposed nuclear deal with Russia had gone ahead it would have prevented SA’s current energy crisis. How that is supposed to work is unclear. If there is one thing to take from the debacle of the construction of the Kusile and Medupi power stations, is that it is unlikely any project agreed to in 2014-15 would have been producing electricity today. And then there’s the cost. Once again, the two coal-powered stations that were supposed to prevent the current blackouts are instructive, with overruns that have left Eskom with about R420bn in debt that it can’t service. Even if there was a miracle and the costs didn’t escalate, the R1-trillion estimated price tag of the nuclear plant, equivalent to about 60% of the government expenditure in the 2018/2019 fiscal year, would have crippled the economy. Experts had also warned that it was neither necessary nor a...

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