It will be erroneous of anyone to say that the nuclear project talk in South Africa was started by Jacob Zuma. However, it was during Zuma’s reign in government that the nuclear energy project talk was brought back to the fore and nearly saw it being implemented- which would have resulted in a massive economic chaos for the country.
In Nuclear- Inside South Africa’s Secret Deal, award-winning journalist Karyn Maughan and former National Treasury official Kirsten Pearson provide background details of how the Russia-South Africa nuclear project took centre stage during Zuma’s administration.
I must say that reading this book was somewhat of a relief, because of how it provides a postmortem of what would have been one of the biggest disaster of the Zuma administration for this country and her successive generations. It would have been different reading had all efforts of Jacob Zuma and his cohorts been successful to build a new nuclear plant, which country cannot afford.
I also like how the authors were very careful in referring to this as a Zuma’s administration deal than a Jacob Zuma deal throughout the pages of this book. One could sense their reluctance for not opting for the latter reference for fear of what would have been an attack on them to just reduce this into one man’s project.
However, inside the pages of this book, as a reader you can’t but see how this was indeed a one man’s project. How this one man did anything in his power to ensure that whatever agreement he had agreed with his Russian counterparts saw the light of the day, even if that meant ruining careers of anyone asking questions over the deal, suppressing the dissenting voices, and putting the country’s economy in a position that would have taken it centuries to recover.
While Nuclear details Zuma’s secretive operations in the whole deal, I, however,liked how the scribes also in a way celebrated the women and men who blocked all the Zuma’s shenanigans in this whole illegal, expensive, and unsustainable deal.
And one of my unexpected heroes in this whole thing was Tina Joemat-Petterson(Yes, the former Energy Minister). Perusing through the pages of this book, you can’t but acknowledge her patriotic stance in delaying the whole deal. I find myself really forgiving her for all crimes in government after reading her account and her later role in this whole deal.
Nuclear is one great piece of investigative journalism and South Africans should be happy to read it with the most grateful spirit.
However, I know the likes of Matshela Koko, Brian Molefe, and Zuma loyalists would rubbish it and dismiss it as sensational, but I think the glossary provides the necessary proof of the evidence gathered in documenting the whole narration.