NEWS & ANALYSIS

Ramaphosa evasive about his role in nuclear build programme – David Maynier

DA MP says President refusing to say whether he supported key cabinet decision

President Cyril Ramaphosa is being evasive about his role in the nuclear build programme in SA

30 October 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, for the first time, confirmed that he was present at the Cabinet meeting on 09 December 2015, which took the decision to issue the request for proposals for the nuclear build programme in South Africa.

However, we still do not know whether President Cyril Ramaphosa had the courage to oppose the nuclear build programme, which at the time was described as “fiscally unsustainable”, in South Africa.

This is because President Cyril Ramaphosa claims that he cannot reveal whether he supported the decision by Cabinet on 09 December 2015 to issue the request for proposals for the nuclear build programme because:

Discussion in Cabinet are confidential and it is therefore not possible to provide information on individual contributions to the discussion”.

This is simply not true because the minutes of the Cabinet meeting on 09 December 2015, which took the decision to issue the request for proposals for the nuclear build programme, have been declassified.

In a letter, dated 28 September 2018, the Zondo Commission, requested the Cabinet Secretary, Dr Cassius Lubisi, to declassify the following:

- “Those portions of the minutes of the Cabinet meeting of 09 December 2015 which pertain to the nuclear deal under consideration at the time;

- All memoranda, reports and other documents, in whatever format, presented at the Cabinet meeting of 09 December 2015 in support of, or accompanying, the consideration of the nuclear deal; and

- Any memoranda, reports or other documents which emanate from the consideration of the nuclear deal by Cabinet on 09 December 2015.”

And Advocate Paul Pretorius SC, who was leading former Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene’s, evidence before the Zondo Commission on 03 October 2018, confirmed that: we have been able to declassify the cabinet minutes”.

Surely President Cyril Ramaphosa, or the Office of the Presidency, were aware that the minutes of the Cabinet meeting on 09 December 2015, which took the decision to issue the request for proposals for the nuclear build programme, had been declassified?

And why would President Cyril Ramaphosa, or the Office of the Presidency, refuse to provide information they must have known was contained in the minutes of the Cabinet meeting on 09 December 2015, which had been declassified?

This suggests that President Cyril Ramaphosa is being evasive when he claimed that it was not possible to provided information on individual contributions to the discussion on the nuclear build programme at the Cabinet meeting on 09 December 2015.

We have to get to the bottom of this and I have, therefore, submitted an application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000) for access to the declassified minutes of the Cabinet meeting on 09 December 2015, which took the decision to issue the request for proposals for the nuclear build programme in South Africa.

We need to know whether President Cyril Ramaphosa had the courage to oppose the nuclear build programme, and do what was right for the country, or whether he supported the nuclear build programme, and did what was right for himself, ahead of the governing parties elective conference in South Africa.

Issued by David MaynierDA Shadow Minister of Finance, 30 October 2018