President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Picture: Screengrab

This story has been updated.

Parliament, Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma is upbeat about the recovery of South Africa’s economy.

Speaking during his State of the Nation address in Parliament on Thursday evening, he said 15 million people are currently employed in the country. This is the highest ever in South Africa’s history.

Last year, 650 000 jobs were created.

“Despite the global recession, we have nursed the economy to recover,” he said.

However, the country was still going through a difficult period. Last year the rand depreciated by 17.6% against the US dollar.

This meant the country’s infrastructure programme would be more expensive.

Zuma urged exporters to take advantage of the situation.

“We can cope with this period of turbulence… we will emerge stronger if we do the right thing,” he said.

Zuma urged stakeholders in the mining sector to be aware of the impact that instability in the industry has on the rest of the economy.

“… we cannot have industrial conflict that destroys the economy,” he said during his sixth State of the Nation address in Parliament on Thursday evening.

Over the last year the country has seen a number of strikes which have resulted in miners dying at the hands of police and because of union rivalry. Also, millions of rand are lost each day during strikes.

However, Zuma did say industrial relations were improving in the sector.

“Strikes… were fewer and shorter last year. And more importantly, industrial relations processes are taking place in a manner consistent with the law,” he said.

Mining is one of the key drivers of the economy and employs over half a million people.

Political Bureau