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Zuma urges unity to overcome economic woes
February 14, 2013, 7:48 pm

[GCIS Photo]

President Jacob Zuma enters the National Assembly to deliver the State of the Nation Address. [GCIS/Parliament of RSA]

Jacob Zuma, the South African President, used the State of the Nation address to underline the economic challenges facing the country, but urged unity in all business sectors as well as cooperation with fellow BRICS nations.

Zuma presented the harsh realities that have faced South Africa since the global economic recession in 2008, which he partially blamed for undermining the African National Congress’s (ANC) roadmap to maintain job growth and quality healthcare, among other initiatives.

“The achievement of these goals has proven to be difficult in the recent past, due the global economic recession,” he said on Thursday.

“The crisis in the Eurozone affects our economy as the Eurozone is our major trading partner, accounting for around 21 per cent of our exports.”

The president admitted that the economy had regressed somewhat in recent years, saying that a GDP growth forecast of 3.1 per cent had been revised to 2.5 per cent.

South Africa needed to reach an annual growth rate of at least 5 per cent in order to stimulate the job market.

“The National Development Plan outlines interventions that can put the economy on a better footing. The target for job creation is set at 11 million by 2030 and the economy needs to grow threefold to create the desired jobs,” he said.

Zuma urged national unity on business and economic affairs, signalling that the government was open to ideas from various sectors in order to meet the 2030 deadline.

“We will engage business, labour, and other social partners in pursuit of solutions. No single force acting individually can achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves,” he said.

In addition to pushing for a unified national economic agenda, Zuma said his government would strive to achieve wage equitability.

The first step to achieve this would be to revise the current tax system. He said the minister of finance would commission a study to establish “an appropriate revenue base to support public spending”.

“Part of this study, will evaluate the current mining royalties regime, with regard to its ability to suitably serve our people,” he said, alluding to the Marikana protests which killed and injured hundreds last year.

In order to overcome the effect of trade with struggling markets – in Europe and the US – Zuma highlighted Pretoria’s strong multi-lateral relations with fellow BRICS countries in his State of the Nation speech today as a means to move the country forward.

“Our vision of a better Africa in a better world will receive great impetus when we host the 5th BRICS Summit next month in Durban,” Zuma said.

Two years ago, South Africa was invited to join – and then accepted as a full member of – the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) economic bloc.

Xavier Carim, the South African deputy director general at the Department of Trade and Industry, said recently his country would take the lead in increasing BRICS involvement in developing and cooperating with African economies.

He said that the upcoming fifth annual BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa would prove the launching pad for enhancing such links.

Investing in Africa is both a domestic and foreign policy imperative for Pretoria, which not only recognises but endorses the belief that the continent is a ‘rising star’ – the next major growth region in the global economy.

Source: Agencies