Gigaba stops doing nuclear puppet dance

Atul Gupta with President Jacob Zuma, Hassan Howa and Malusi Gigaba. BizNews

Malusi Gigaba may be doing a Mogoeng Mogoeng: no longer dancing to the tune of his handlers the Guptas. So thinks The Cape Messenger editor Donwald Pressly

Malusi Gigaba is making no bones about it. The nuclear deal is, quite frankly, too costly, too hot, to handle. Certainly at this stage.

The weekend City Press interviewed the Minister of Finance, and he was more than a wee bit candid. “We (are) not going to afford nuclear… the budget can’t afford it,” he told the Sunday newspaper.

It reported that in an exclusive interview Gigaba said: “There was a time when it was felt that nuclear is necessary and it must be implemented, and programmes were started. But it became clear, as the economy took a serious dip, that we were not going to afford nuclear.”

When the new chief justice was appointed six years ago, it was widely believed that he was one of President Jacob Zuma’s men. His independent thinking once in the chair of chief justice has been consistently demonstrated since then.

So maybe, just maybe, Gigaba – who as Home Affairs Minister paved the way for the Gupta family to get South African identities – is no longer dancing to President Zuma’s tune too.

Although the interview tells us nothing really new about Gigaba’s stance on nuclear power, he was more explicit than in the stance he took at his news conference during the budget lock-up last week.

This time he said that while nuclear power would remain part of the energy mix, taking up an extra supply – which it is believed would cost about R1 trillion – did not make sense when the economy was not growing fast. It was not “a malicious view” to shelve the nuclear programme for now, considering the R50 billion budget shortfall and a rising budget deficit.

It appears that Gigaba is no longer doing the Zupta dance in public. Or is this just another smokescreen?

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