DA leader Mmusi Maimane. File picture: Phill Magakoe/ANA Pictures
Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Tuesday that the African National Congress (ANC) was to blame for South Africa falling into a recession for the second time in eight years.

Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) announced that South Africa’s economy is officially in recession, with GDP growth for Quarter 1 of 2017 down 0.7%, which follows a 0.3% contraction in Quarter 4 of 2016.

"It is the ANC that has led us to this point of economic collapse, where we have a 'junk' economy in recession, and where 9.3 million South Africans are without work – the highest unemployment rate in over 14 years. It is a toxic combination of policy uncertainty and grand corruption which has led us to this point," Maimane said in a statement.

"Indeed, the ANC has allowed the state to be captured for the benefit of a small group of connected individuals, while the majority of South Africans are left in poverty and without hope."

"Moreover, just last week, our country’s unemployment hit a 14-year high, with 9.3 million South Africans without a job. The official unemployment rate has gone up to 27.7 % – this is the highest level since March 2003."

Maimane said that the hardest hit sectors were the trade, catering and accommodation industry, which decreased by -5.9%, and manufacturing, which decreased by -3.7%, and that without growth in these vital sectors, the gap between the "haves and the have nots" would continue to grow, and the poor would be without opportunity to better their lives.

"The high growth sectors of our economy – such as manufacturing and tourism – ought to be stimulated with an array of policy interventions to facilitate growth. The government has failed dismally in this regard," the DA leader said.

"What South Africa now requires is leadership that understands our economy and what it requires to grow, and appreciates that without a strong and thriving economy we will never address the injustices of our past."

Maimane described the country's economy as being in "tatters" and a direct result of an ANC government which was corrupt and had no plan for the economy.

"We will never achieve a united, non-racial and prosperous nation without a growing economy which creates jobs, opportunity and wealth for all," he said.

"The only hope for our country, for our economy and for 9.3 million South Africans is to remove the ANC from government in 2019."