Ministers react to President Zuma's speech

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From transforming the economy to creating decent work and improving
conditions in the mining sector, President Jacob Zuma?s State of the Nation
Address, has been received with vigour, by several of his Cabinet colleagues.

Ministers who spoke to SAnews expressed satisfaction over the pledges
made from the speech, saying the address highlighted the urgency of what
needs to be done to socio-economic problems facing South Africa, 20 years after
the country attained its democracy.

Mines

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi welcomed President Zuma?s
statement that government would implement the undertaking to build housing
and other services to revitalise mining towns, as part of the October 2012
agreement between business, government and labour.

"That is where the root of problems might be. We need to address the
socio-economic challenges faced by mining towns and mining workers
themselves.

"I?m very pleased about the commitments we will be undertaking to address
the challenges that we are having in the mining sector. I?m working with a team
of other ministers to bring about stability in mining and to improve the quality of
life for miners. What the President?s speech did today was to emphasise on
certain actions that will have to be done,' Minister Ramatlhodi said.

Earlier, President Zuma also said given the impact of the labour relations
environment on the economy, it was critical that social partners meet to
deliberate on the violent nature and the duration of the strikes.

Minister Ramatlhodi said: "We believe labour relations need to be strengthened.
We have sound labour relations practices in this country and we will continue to
ensure that relations between workers and employers and indeed government
are continuously improved.'


Encouraging investment

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said his highlights of the speech
were on the emphasis to address the constraints that hamper economic growth
and investment to South Africa.

President Zuma said over the next five years, government will prioritise support
to small business, as well as township and informal sector businesses. The
energy sector will also have to undergo major structural changes to support
faster economic growth.

"What the President has acknowledged is that there are constraints that
are preventing us from bringing about structural changes to the economy. I am
glad that the energy constraint is being given particular attention.

"We need regular supplies of energy and I think that is the direction we
ought to be taking. We also need to drive our economy to a much more value
added space and we need to create more opportunities for entrepreneurs in
that regard which is why there is a new ministry with a particular focus on that,'
Minister Davies said.

For Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, the speech gave a meaning
to the National Development Plan (NDP), the document that contains proposals
to reduce poverty and unemployment by 2030.

"The economy centre stage, infrastructure, jobs and industrialisation, this
was really a speech that gives effect to the NDP and its focused on delivery'.

Support for the NDP

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the NDP needed a programme of action
to support it, saying tonight?s speech by the President provided that
programme.

"The President has got his team ready to roll. The Treasury will be there and
when we get down to business, at least we have an implementation plan in
place. Even with the fiscal constraints that we have, we can achieve most of
these plans. We just need to prioritise our resources where they matter
most.'

Taking SA forward

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, whose department managed to
improve the matric pass rate to over 75 percent over the past five years, said
the speech was "high level' and focused on things that would take the country
forward.

"Almost all his focus was on high level things. The key levers of our
economy, getting these things right, the economy . we will move South Africa
forward,' said a determined Minister Motshekga. - SAnews.gov.za

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