ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe allegedly “pleaded” with Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema to help him scupper President Jacob Zuma’s Gupta-linked nuclear plans when they met to discuss post-municipal election coalitions.
In a recorded interview, conducted under oath with then public protector Thuli Madonsela concerning her probe into state capture, Malema spoke of a meeting he had had with Mantashe and at least two other EFF colleagues during the August municipal coalition talks.
Malema told Madonsela in the September 22 interview that the ANC boss pleaded with the EFF to include the scrapping of nuclear projects as part of its conditions for a coalition with the ANC – because the ANC was worried that government was desperate to ram the deal through at a huge cost to the fiscus, and it was likely to result in the country’s collapse.
“When we were discussing the coalitions the first person we met with was Gwede Mantashe, alone,” said Malema.
“It was me, Dali [Mpofu, the EFF’s national chairperson], Floyd [Shivambu, the EFF’s deputy president] and, I think, Mbuyiseni [Ndlozi, the EFF’s national spokesperson] was there. And then we put the conditions … of working with the ANC.”
He went on to say: “Gwede asked us confidentially: ‘Please put the nuclear deal as part of your conditions’ … And we asked him: ‘Why should we put nuclear?’ And he said: ‘The nuclear deal is going to collapse the country.’”
The average amount of time it takes to construct a nuclear power station is 10 years.
Government wants the first reactor to start generating power from 2023, and for all of them to be complete by 2029. The cost of the programme is likely to exceed R1 trillion.
The EFF told the then public protector that Nene was reluctant to approve the country’s nuclear deal, which Zuma wanted expedited so that he could benefit before the end of his presidency.
According to Malema, “Gwede said the Russians have got a deal with these guys [Zuma and the Guptas].
They have confirmed the deal and they have paid in advance. And that is why these guys are under huge pressure to deliver the nuclear deal.”
The EFF leader said that he later revealed the information to the media “with authority, because it came from the ANC”
“It became part of our conditions … That is why Gwede pleaded with me, [saying] that: ‘When you are angry you must not repeat this thing and mention my name, please.’”
In the recording, Madonsela can be heard giggling before she says: “And now you are doing it.”
To which a chuckling Malema responds: “No, I’m under oath now. There is nothing I can do. And you know, it ends here. It is your stuff. It is not public here.”
Mantashe admitted to having had a meeting alone with the EFF leaders, but said Malema’s claims were false and intended to divide the ANC.
Malema observed that “the nature of government spending is such that if it was to cost us R1 trillion, it will end up costing us R7 trillion.
Referring to Zuma, Malema said: “This thing is costing you your career. Everybody is on your case because you want to take this department.
Somebody else would have let go. But it would not be easy to let go if you have taken people’s money. So they are desperately looking for the deal to go through.”
He is also recorded as saying he had information from Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas that Zuma had sought legal opinion on the desirability of moving the nuclear programme from the department of energy to the security cluster.