Economy: Business gives Zuma something to think about

President Zuma met with business leaders to discuss the country's economic challenges. (AFP)

President Zuma met with business leaders to discuss the country's economic challenges. (AFP)

“Business said in all the activities we are not being engaged as business. We have views, thoughts and ideas we have to share,” he told reporters after a four-hour meeting between government officials and business representatives.

The meeting had been fruitful, he said at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.

“As soon as that point was made I thought it was very important to organise this meeting as quickly as possible. It was important (to hold talks) so that business could express their feelings and for government to understand and clarify certain things.”

Sunday's meeting was attended by senior government officials including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, and National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel.

Business was represented by the leadership of the Black Business Council and Business Unity SA. The business community asked for the meeting during the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, last month.

Zuma said the parties agreed to meet again within two months to further deliberate on the obstacles stifling the South African economy.

In October last year proposals unveiled by Zuma – intended to quell economic turbulence – was slated by analysts and politicians for lacking detail.

President's proposals

Following several weeks of labour unrest in the country, Zuma tried to restore confidence in South Africa's economy by unveiling a wide-ranging plan devised by government, business and organised labour. But the announcement did not immediately provide a panacea to jittery investors.

Key to the president's proposals to restore economic confidence after almost 10 weeks of industrial action across the mining and transport sector in 2012 hinged on production in the minerals sector being normalised as a matter of urgency.

In his January 8 statement earlier this year Zuma said the monopoly domination of the economy is an obstacle to the goals of economic transformation, growth and development.

Zuma said decisive action was required to thoroughly and urgently transform the economic patterns of the present in order to realise "our vision for the future".

Zuma made it clear the ANC was not intending to change its current economic policies, which have widely been blamed, particularly by some leaders from the left and the ANC Youth League.

State's equitable share

The ANC's national conference in Mangaung rejected calls to nationalise mines and other key sectors of the economy. Instead, the ANC resolved to create a state mining company that will compete with the private sector.

"We have also resolved that the state must capture an equitable share of mineral resources rents through the tax system and deploy them in the interests of long-term economic growth, development and transformation. Government must implement this resolution," said Zuma in his annual address.

Zuma said the ANC national conference opted for a mixed economy, where public, private, cooperative and other forms of social ownership complement each other in an integrated way.

"Within this mixed economy, we re-affirm the active and interventionist role of the state in ensuring economic development.

"It must be a state that has the capacity to intervene in the economy to lead development," Zuma said.

Additional reporting by Sapa

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