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“Mining has been a key feature of this country’s economy for more than 130 years. It remains the cornerstone of our economy, even though it is now smaller, relative to the size of the overall economy,“ urged the president.
He was speaking during a special media briefing on the national economy, particularly the mining sector.
Mining accounts for six per cent of GDP directly, about 18 per cent indirectly and is responsible for millions of South African jobs, he said.
In the backdrop of a bitter rivalry between the NUM and the AMCU, which has often led to violent clashes, Zuma urged business, labour organisations and government to continue engaging constructively.
AMCU, which has been fighting with NUM for dominance among the miners, has claimed that NUM no longer represents the majority of miners.
“Everything we do must be designed to strengthen and stabilise the sector, and ensure that it serves all stakeholders – the investors and owners, workers, government and the broader society,” said Zuma today.
Expressing concern over South Africa’s GDP figure of 0.9 per cent for the first quarter of 2013, Zuma said growth has to be much higher in the next three quarters.
“The figure means that we must strengthen economic performance and increase the rate of investment for us to achieve the projected annual growth of 2.7 per cent.”
South Africa’s National Development Plan has indicated that growth rates of above 3.5 per cent per annum will put the economy on the right footing.
Zuma has pledged that the government will redouble its efforts to support the economy.
“We need business, labour and community sectors to play their part. More importantly, we need all South Africans to play their part.”
Zuma laid blame partially on the eurozone crisis for the mining industry hit in South Africa.
“Since our economy is intertwined with the global economy, especially Europe, our mining industry has unavoidably been affected by the depressed global economic environment, “ he said.
Zuma said he has assigned Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to lead the interactions with labour and the mining companies.
South Africa has been chosen as the Offshoring Destination of the Year for 2013, by the European Outsourcing Association.
There has also been a stunning 10.2 per cent increase in tourist arrivals to the country for 2012, while the world average increase was at around four per cent, last month.
“This is an outstanding achievement for a country that was once a pariah state,” said Zuma.
Zuma is traveling to Japan today to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development with other African Heads of State.
The BRICS Post