PRETORIA, South African President Jacob Zuma has strongly denied media reports that he met with a Russian delegation before changing his Cabinet last week amidst accusations that he named a new energy minister to facilitate the fast-tracking of nuclear power plant deal with Russia.
Weekend newspapers alleged that the president met with Russian representatives who pressured him to fast-track the nuclear deal with Russia.
There has been speculation that the new Energy Minister, David Mahlobo, was appointed for this purpose, but Presidential Spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said here Tuesday that the President was never influenced or coerced into changing his Cabinet by the Russians or any other foreign force.
Earlier, the Russian Embassy here also dismissed allegations that President Vladimir Putin had a hand in Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle and the appointment of Mahlobo as Energy Minister to facilitate the nuclear deal.
The Press Officer at the Russian Embassy, Alexander Kulyaev, said: “The notion itself, the idea that some sort of top-level delegation from direct orders from President Putin come to South Africa and force Jacob Zuma to make reshuffles in his Cabinet is just plain ridiculous.
“This is a quote from a very bad script from a very bad Hollywood movie, nothing else. So no, there was no high-level meeting of a Russian delegation in South Africa last week.”
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK