South Africa’s economic recovery after the global financial crisis has not been as strong as it should have been, President Jacob Zuma said this morning.
Zuma hosted an emergency media briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria to give his views on the economy and issues in the mining sector, following a downward revision of SA’s projected economic growth and weaker than expected GDP growth in the first quarter of 2013.
Earlier this week, Stats SA revealed South Africa’s GDP grew by only 0,9% on a quarter-on-quarter basis during the first four months of this year, down from 2,1% in the last quarter of 2012. This was SA’s poorest economic performance since the onset of the global recession in 2009.
Subsequently the World Bank this week dropped its 2013 economic growth estimate for South Africa to 2,5% in its latest South Africa Economic Update, having projected growth of 3,2% in July.
“Firstly, let me comment on the Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 0, 9 percent for the first quarter, which was released this week,” Zuma said this morning. “The figure means that we must strengthen economic performance and increase the rate of investment. Growth in the remaining three quarters of the year will have to be much higher, for us to achieve the projected annual growth of 2,7%.”
Zuma said although the SA economy was among the first that recovered quickly from the global financial crisis after it had contracted by 1,9%, in 2009, the economy needs to grow more rapidly. “We need faster growth. Without faster growth we cannot succeed in reducing unemployment, poverty and inequality.”
He said the National Development Plan as well as the New Growth Path, call for economic growth rates of above 3,5% per year. But government can’t do it alone. “We need business, labour and community sectors to play their part. More importantly, we need all South Africans to play their part. We must all promote our country and promote activities that enhance economic growth in every possible way.”
Zuma mentioned six areas as important job drivers in the economy – mining, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development, the green economy and manufacturing.
But he singled out the mining industry as “a key feature of our economy for more than 130 years”.
“The industry accounts for 6% of GDP and generates 60% of export revenues and is a valuable contributor to corporate taxes. It provides jobs for more than one million of our people and nationals from neighbouring countries.”
Zuma will leave for Japan today to attend an international conference on development in Africa. He undertook to also strengthen relations between Japan and South Africa during the official visit.