Zuma missed opportunity – DA

2013-05-30 16:34

The opposition Democratic Alliance criticised President Jacob Zuma’s address to the media at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, saying it had been a missed opportunity.

DA MP Lindiwe Mazibuko today said Zuma should have spoken decisively about the problems facing the economy.

“But instead of a plan of action on how to address our economic growth collapse to just 0.9% in the first quarter, we received only more of the vague reassurances which have characterised his term in office,” said Mazibuko.

A few hours after Zuma sought to allay investor fears at an unexpected news briefing today, the rand dropped to its lowest level in four years.

The local currency weakened to R10 against the US dollar, levels it last reached in March 2009.

Mazibuko said if Zuma were “serious” about addressing the country’s economic problems he would have announced immediate changes to the “winner-takes-all” labour relations which had caused tensions between competing unions.

The briefing was called by Zuma to speak on the economy and developments in the mining sector.

Zuma told reporters South Africa needed a stable mining industry in order to increase its economic growth.

“Our country needs a stable and growing mining industry. Mining has been a key feature of this country’s economy for more than 130 years,” said Zuma.

He said the mining sector remained the cornerstone of the economy, “even though (it was) now smaller, relative to the size of the overall economy”.

Mining accounted for 6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and generated 60% of South Africa’s export revenue, he said.

The mining sector employed about 1 million people, including nationals from neighbouring countries.

Zuma said the mining sector had been negatively affected by depressed global economic growth, especially in Europe.

“The global recession has led to substantial declines in commodity prices and in the demand for our minerals abroad,” he said.

“And when our mining sector is in difficulties, this affects the wider economy, leading to industrial slowdown.”

Zuma said 2012 was a difficult year for the mining sector, with the death of more than 40 people during a strike in Marikana.

But government had acted to address labour relations in the mining sector.

“We cannot deliver growth on our own. We need business, labour and community sectors to play their part. More importantly, we need all South Africans to play their part.”

A united effort was needed to improve economic growth from the 0.9% GDP reported in the first quarter of 2013 to the 2.7% targeted by government for the year, said Zuma.

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