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Zuma’s SONA must focus on economy

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma should focus on restoring confidence in the South African economy when he takes to the podium during next week's state-of-the-nation address, the DA said on Thursday.

Zuma should provide clear leadership to address the crisis facing the economy, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane told journalists at Parliament.

Mmusi Maimane is a shoo-in as DA parliamentary leader, the party confirmed. File picture: David Ritchie. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

“We face very difficult economic conditions, and could be on the verge of entering into a formal economic recession.

“If this happens, hundreds of thousands of South Africans could lose their jobs as the economy shrinks,” Maimane said.

The first order of business for Zuma should be to bring an end to the strike in the platinum mining sector.

“President Zuma must address Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) on this matter,” Maimane said, referring to the union's almost five-month-old strike.

“Amcu must accept that it will have to compromise. The employers must accept that they will have to compromise.”

The compromise from government would entail providing more support to mining communities in future.

Zuma would also be expected to tackle corruption in government.

“It ruins confidence, undermines credibility of government, and drains resources,” Maimane said.

“While the president must offer Parliament, the nation, and the public protector an explanation for why he benefited unduly from the upgrades to Nkandla, he must also put real measures in place to stop corruption in government at large.”

Austerity measures should form part of Zuma's plans for the next five years, especially as the president's administration had become increasingly bloated.

“We must cut the costs of running government and spend state resources on infrastructure that facilitates growth,” Maimane said.

“Instead of large government, large cars, and large houses, let us rather see large projects to improve this country, while saving wasted expenditure through tighter controls on spending by opening tender processes and making expenditure transparent.”

A strong message on improving trade relations was key to bolstering the economy.

This included fast-tracking the Tripartite Free Trade Area in Africa to boost trade with other African economies.

Zuma would also help if he were to negotiate a continuation of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) - which allowed duty-free trade between the US and Africa.

AGOA expires next year.

Sapa

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