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Zuma issues warning on growth

Feb 14 2013 21:15 Sapa
Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma (Picture: GCIS)

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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma issued a sober warning in his state of the nation address on Thursday that South Africa needs a superlative effort, and unity between all sectors, to turn the economy around and create jobs.

A flu-ridden Zuma said it was a fact that the country would miss the target of creating 11 million jobs by 2030 - as set out in the National Development Plan - unless the economy grew threefold.

"In my last meeting with the business community, the sector indicated that for the economy to grow three-fold we must remove certain obstacles," he said.

"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.

It was widely expected that the president would use his speech as a rallying call to implement the plan, and his leadership victory at the Mangaung conference two months ago to try to get different elements in the political spectrum to converge behind it.

Zuma termed the plan - which is the vision of the country for the next 20 years - a roadmap to creating an equal and just country.

He said its planned outcomes, from access to basic services to safety to employment, had recently been hampered by global economic woes, and he warned that these were not about to go away.

The achievement of these goals had proven to be difficult in the recent past, due the global economic recession.

The crisis in the eurozone affected South Africa's economy as this was its major trading partner, accounting for around 21% of exports.

"Our GDP growth is expected to average at 2.5% , down from 3.1% in the previous year. We need growth rates in excess of five percent to create more jobs," he said.

Zuma confirmed that mining taxes would be reviewed as part of a wider study on the suitability of South Africa's tax regime, but said he believed policy certainty had been brought to the sector by the decision in Mangaung to abandon the nationalisation debate.

Referring to the Marikana shooting, the president said he believed labour stability had been secured in the Rustenburg region.

He returned to the event later in his speech to announce that the police and justice department had been instructed to deal with violent protest as a priority.

"Courts will be allocated to deal with such cases on a prioritised roll. The law must be enforced and it must be seen to be enforced, fairly effectively and expeditiously."

Zuma took a tough stance on crime, singling out the rape and murder of Anene Booysen, and called for a concerted effort to end violence against women.

"The brutality and cruelty meted out to defenceless women is unacceptable and has no place in our country," he said.


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