Government remains intent on pursuing the new nuclear build programme at a pace and scale that the country can afford, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

During his address before the National Assembly, he said the programme was being pursued as part of the general energy mix which includes hydro, solar, coal, wind and gas.

“With regard to nuclear, government is committed to a process that is open and transparent, cost effective and competitive,” he said. “The transparent approach to the programme will ensure that the risk of any deviation from constitutionally acceptable procurement norms is reduced.”

Zuma said it was important to note that the court found fault with the process that was initially followed, especially in the tabling of the Intergovernmental Agreements in preparation for the programme.

“The Judgment does not deal with substantive matters pertaining to the country’s future energy programmes,” Zuma said.

“The new nuclear build programme is informed by the Nuclear Energy Policy of 2008, which outlines roles and responsibilities for various nuclear organisations and South Africa’s goal to become self-sufficient in all aspects of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful uses,” he added.

Employment since 2008 recession

Zuma told the National Assembly that government had introduced several measures since 2009 to reignite economic growth and create jobs.

He explained that government’s plan for growth and jobs included the National Development Plan (NDP), which outlines several sectors and measures for taking the South African economy onto a higher growth path.

Through the NDP, government has set the goal of creating 11 million jobs by 2030. Energy minister Mmamoloko Kubayi recently said that a large number of these jobs would be created through the rollout of the country’s nuclear build programme.

Zuma added that government would also focus on entering into more effective partnerships with the private sector, and will also work to enhance the relationships between business, labour and government.

Unemployment rate reflects current global economic outlook

During his address, Zuma also touched on the country’s recent spike in unemployment and said it was a reflection of the current global economic outlook.

He said economic growth globally had been very weak since the 2008 global financial crisis.

“This crisis has contributed to increased unemployment not only in South Africa but also in other countries,” he said. “There are also domestic factors that have contributed to weak economic growth in our case.

“These include but are not limited to the impact of the recent drought which adversely affected the agricultural sector in particular,” he said. “It is good that this sector is now recovering well.”