Zuma must focus on economy: Seifsa

2014-06-16 23:08
Parliament (File, Dan Calderwood, News24)

Parliament (File, Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma must use his State of the Nation address to send a strong message to the local and international markets that government would turn the country's economy around, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) said on Monday.

"By far the biggest challenge confronting South Africa today is economical, and definitely not political," Seifsa chief executive officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said in a statement.

"Therefore, the State of the Nation address presents the president with a great opportunity to send a message to the country and the world that his government is alive to our economic challenges and that it will do everything possible to turn the situation around."

Nyatsumba said Zuma's seventh Sona address, which would take place on Tuesday evening in Parliament in Cape Town, would come a few days after the country's credit rating was downgraded to "near-junk" status.

"South Africa certainly cannot afford yet another downgrade by the international ratings agencies, nor can it afford another shrinkage in our economy," Nyatsumba said.

Zuma should indicate, in his Sona address, the clear actions that government would take to stimulate economic growth, to support manufacturing, to protect existing jobs and to provide an indication on what government would do to prevent labour strikes, such as the one in the platinum sector.

He said government also needed to work hard to build a strong partnership between itself, business and labour, and to ensure that they would work with state-owned companies to support local manufacturers.

Government should acknowledge that its primary responsibility was to create a climate conducive for job creation, with business focusing on enhancing its international competitiveness and job creation.

Nyatsumba said the local manufacturing sector, especially the metals and engineering industries, were facing unfair competition from eastern countries which subsidised their businesses.

This made it important for government to implement incentives that enabled local manufacturers to be competitive. Treasury also had to ensure that the necessary steps were taken to protect local businesses from such unfair competition.

"It is our hope that the president will use the opportunity presented by the State of the Nation address not only to re-affirm the government's commitment to the National Development Plan, but also to spell out concretely how the NDP and its ambitious infrastructure plans will be rolled out as a matter of extreme urgency," he said.

Seifsa is a national federation representing 27 independent employer associations in the metal and engineering industries, with a membership of over 2000 companies employing over 200 000 employees.

- SAPA

Read more on:    seifsa  |  jacob zuma  |  parliament 2014
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