Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma said “more hard work awaits us all in 2016 as challenges still remain” in his New Year's message on Thursday.
Zuma said government will continue to focus on areas highlighted in the 2015 State of the Nation Address and the Nine-Point Plan to ignite economic growth and create jobs.
“We will need labour and business to work with government closely, as we create the enabling environment for inclusive growth and job creation,” he said.
Zuma has been criticised for destabilising the economy after replacing Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister with a relatively unknown ANC backbencher. Lobbying from big business and party insiders allegedly forced Zuma to back track and reappoint Pravin Gordhan to the position, after he too had been pushed aside in 2014.
Cognisant of local elections around the corner, Zuma pledged to “build a South Africa where economic opportunities increase for all and not just a few”.
“The pursuit of economic transformation will continue,” he said.
“We have to work further in 2016 to achieve broader and more meaningful black economic empowerment and participation in the economy,” said Zuma.
Zuma said government we will explore opportunities in agriculture, mining, small business development, energy, growing the country’s ocean economy, transport, water and sanitation and telecommunications.
“We will also work further to improve the functioning, performance and governance of state owned companies,” he said.
“We will continue stabilising the labour market, and to pursue agreement on the national minimum wage.”
Gordhan’s budget speech in the first week of May is expected to give more direction on the country’s economic framework going forward.