Statistician-General Pali Lehohla . Picture: Siyabulela Duda.

Pretoria - Statistician-General Pali Lehohla on Monday shied away from speculation that South Africa's economy may have shrunk further during the second quarter of this year.

“A number of commentators are asking the question - after the negative growth in GDP (for the first quarter of 2014) of minus 0.6 percent - are we likely to see... a recession?

“Well, on the 26th of August we'll be releasing another GDP figure, and then we'll see,” he told reporters in Pretoria, adding that they should “watch this space”.

There has been speculation that South Africa's economy might be heading for a second quarter of contracting real gross domestic product, widely seen as an indicator that a country's economy is in recession.

Asked at the briefing to give some prediction for the second quarter, deputy director-general for economic statistics, Joe de Beer, said Statistics SA did not yet have all the data to do so.

“It's very early days, and I think we would be reliant for the GDP calculations for estimates for the months of April, May and June.

“We don't have all of those data points yet, but I think later this week, when we start looking at the trade statistics to be published, it will also give us a good feel for where this is going to end up,” he said.

Lehohla on Monday tabled figures highlighting the sluggish recovery of South Africa's mining and manufacturing sectors in the wake of the 2008/09 recession.

The figures were a repeat of those issued in Stats SA's last monthly release, tabled last week.

They highlight the impact strikes and industrial unrest have had on the country's mining and manufacturing sectors.

Among other things, they show that between June 2012 and March this year a total of 48,000 jobs were lost in the mining sector, a decrease of nine percent.

Further between September 2006 and March this year, the number of employees in the manufacturing sector decreased by 14 percent, a total of 188,000 employees.

Asked why he was repeating the data, Lehohla said the strikes and industrial unrest experienced around the country were cause for concern.

“Releasing these numbers in the context of a restive industrial environment helps to energise the discussion that society needs to have.

“Government must engage these numbers, and look at them, analyse them and feed them into the Nedlac (National Economic, Development and Labour Council), so that there is more peaceful industrial relations.”

The numbers could provide a basis for such discussion.

“What is new here is an effort to inform better,” he said. - Sapa