Government denied on Friday that a nuclear committee was restructured to remove Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
“Government has noted misleading allegations by the Mail & Guardian on the restructuring of the National Nuclear Energy Executive Co-ordinating Committee (NNEECC), and dismisses the statements as devoid of truth,” acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said.
According to a report in the publication President Jacob Zuma “quietly” replaced Motlanthe and took over as the body’s chair.
This was “further downgrading” Motlanthe after he lost his bid for the ANC presidency last year.
The article reads: “Zuma is now firmly directing what is expected to be the largest, most complex tender process in South African history. At stake is the development of new nuclear power plants, potentially worth up to a trillion rand.”
Zuma was “courting” the Russians with meetings where nuclear co-operation was high on the agenda, it said.
Williams said the NNEECC was set up in 2008 to lead, monitor, and ensure oversight of implementation of the country’s nuclear energy policy.
It had been restructured to improve effectiveness. In April Cabinet approved further restructuring, with the support of the Nuclear Energy Technical Committee.
The revised committee was chaired by Zuma and comprised the ministries of energy, public enterprises, finance, state security, defence, and international relations. The committee was reduced to strengthen its efficiency in decision-making.
“Government dismisses suggestions that the restructuring was an attempt to remove the deputy president from the structure,” she said.
It was mischievous to suggest that diplomatic relations between South Africa and Russia were linked to the country’s energy plans.
“Such an allegation is baseless, as South Africa is a member of the [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] bloc and is bound to have meetings with its counterparts as and when it is required,” Williams said.
The review of Cabinet committees was an ongoing process and attempts to read anything into them was “pure mischief”. – Sapa