A nuclear power station at Thyspunt would have crippled the economy of South Africa should the deal have gone ahead.
The testimony of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene at the state capture commission of inquiry clearly spelt out how the nuclear deal was driven by former president Jacob Zuma without any regard to the economic impact it would have had on South Africa.
Nene revealed that Zuma and other senior Cabinet ministers became hostile towards him for refusing to sign the nuclear deal.
The first of the nuclear power stations would have been constructed at Thyspunt despite strong resistance to the build from local residents.
Nene said that he had been fired from his role as minister of finance because he had refused to “toe the line with regards to the nuclear deal”
Nene told the Zondo commission on Wednesday how he was accused of “insubordination” after he refused to sign a letter committing South Africa to an agreement with Russia on the nuclear build programme.
This was after Cabinet had mandated him and then energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to present a memorandum on the financial implications, proposed funding model and risk mitigation strategies for the nuclear deal.
Nene said Joemat-Pettersson was ready to sign the deal, however, he had refused to sign because, at first, he was unaware of the merits of the deal.
When he became aware of them he quickly realised that the deal would cost South Africans more than a trillion ran.
He refused to sign the deal and he recalled that the attitude of his colleagues, “particularly Department of International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Minister of State Security David Mahlobo became hostile”.
Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom tweeted yesterday that the nuclear option is now off the table.