Johannesburg - South Africa's economy needs stability to promote growth, President Jacob Zuma told the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday evening.
"We have gone through a difficult period in our country in the past few weeks with wildcat strikes, one of which tragically claimed the lives of 46 people in Marikana," Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery in Johannesburg.
"Let me use this opportunity to remind business and labour of the need to ensure shop-floor peace and stability in the country, in order for us to continue the collective responsibility of promoting economic growth and development."
South Africans were renowned for constructive social dialogue, and needed to create an atmosphere conducive to development.
"We should not seek to portray ourselves as a nation that is perpetually fighting."
The average incomes of black South Africans increased by 51% between 1993 and 2008, compared to 35% for whites, he said.
"Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, despite these achievements, the gap between rich and poor still remains. In that case, income inequality is still extremely high in South Africa.
"It has therefore proven difficult and is taking longer to re-engineer the economy to provide opportunities for those who were pushed into impoverished and remote rural areas under apartheid."
The United States, European Union, Middle East and North Africa were experiencing economic difficulties, while Japan was recovering from natural disasters and China was battling with rising food and oil prices.
"These affected countries comprise more than two thirds of South Africa's export market," Zuma said.
The New Growth Path, which sought to create employment and promote growth, was implemented in an attempt to address economic and social challenges facing the country.
"We are confident that our infrastructure build and also our programmes of industrialisation, preferential procurement and localisation will bring new opportunities and partnerships for business.
"Given the economic climate, things will not be smooth or easy.
"But this is a country that is looking forward, and we are all equal to the challenge, business, government, labour, community and all sectors of our society," he said.