State of the Nation Address By His Excellency Jacob G Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa on the occasion of the Joint Sitting Of Parliament, Cape Town - 2

We are still going through a difficult period.

Developments in the United States economy have led to a rapid depreciation in the emerging market currencies, including the rand.

During the course of 2013, the rand depreciated by 17.6 per cent against the US dollar.

The weaker exchange rate poses a significant risk to inflation and will also make our infrastructure programme more expensive.

However, export companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector, should take advantage of the weaker rand and the stronger global recovery.

While we have these difficulties, we know that we can cope with this period of turbulence.

We have done so before in the past five years.

We will, in fact, emerge stronger if we do the right things.

We have to work together as government, business and labour to grow our economy at rates that are above 5 per cent to be able to create the jobs we need.

Fortunately this collaboration is already taking place.

It is taking place at NEDLAC which is one of the key institutions of cooperation in our democracy, between government, business, labour and the community sector.

It has taken place as well in engagements that we have been having with the business community.

Last year I started engaging business on specific steps that government can take to make it easier to do business in our country.

Arising out of that process, we have now streamlined regulatory and licensing approvals for environmental impact assessments, water licenses and mining licenses.

Parliament is finalizing amendments to the law to give effect to this very positive development, which will cut to under 300 days, the time it takes to start a mine, from application to final approvals.

The Deputy President of the Republic continues to facilitate discussions between government, mining companies and labour.

The purpose is to stabilise industrial relations in this very important sector of our economy. The process is yielding results.

Strikes in the sector were fewer and shorter last year.

And more importantly, industrial relations processes are taking place in a manner consistent with the law.

We have intervened in mining  because it is one of our key job drivers. We need a mining sector that works. Mining employs over half a million people.

It is the biggest earner of foreign exchange in our country. It also contributes about 20 billion rand directly to the tax revenue.

Mining also makes a far larger contribution as a buyer of goods and services, and a supplier of inputs to other sectors of our economy and other economies around the globe.

We are exploring partnerships with stakeholders to address the issue of housing in mining towns.

Let me also remind mining companies that 2014 is the deadline for them to improve housing and living conditions of mineworkers and to achieve a number of targets.

Government continues to monitor and enforce compliance on both the company’s Social and Labour Plans and Mining Charter targets.

Fellow South Africans,
Honourable Members,

Other than mining, we had identified five other job drivers in 2009.

These are tourism, agriculture, the green economy, infrastructure development and manufacturing.

The tourism industry has grown dramatically. In 1993, South Africa received a mere 3 million foreign visitors. By 2012, the figure had grown to 13 million visitors.

We will continue to grow this industry, given its potential for job creation.

In 2012 we unveiled the National Infrastructure Plan, led by the President through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.

We have subsequently invested one trillion rand in public infrastructure over the past five years.

Many of the projects are completed or are nearing completion.

I will mention just a few.

The Rea Vaya system in Joburg is now used by more than 100 000 Gauteng residents. Similar systems are being built in Cape Town, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City, eThekwini and Rustenburg.

The country’s harbours and ports have been improved.

We have built a 700 kilometre fuel pipeline from Durban to Gauteng  to transport 4 billion cubic litres of petrol, diesel and jet fuel a year.

Close to 1 500 kilometres of new roads or lanes have been built.

This progress in respect of roads reminds us of those who have served in this government before who wanted the best for the country, such as our former Transport Minister Mr Dullar Omar.

His dear wife Farieda is one of our guests this evening.

The construction of new rail lines has started in Mpumalanga, to ease the pressure off the roads.

The Gautrain project is now fully functional and carries over 1,2 million passengers a month.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa will spend over 120 billion rand over the next 10 years to buy new trains.

Transnet is implementing its massive 300 billion rand market demand strategy, building much needed transport infrastructure.

To realise the economic potential of the Western Cape and the West Coast, we launched the Saldanha Industrial Development Zone and opened two new factories in Atlantis.

To improve the water supply, two large new dams were completed, De Hoop in Limpopo and Spring Grove in KwaZulu-Natal, while phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project is to be launched soon.

Construction is continuing at the new power stations, Medupi in Limpopo, Kusile in Mpumalanga and Ingula near Ladysmith, employing more than 30 000 workers.

We continue to explore other sources of energy, in line with the Integrated Resource Plan for Energy.

The development of petroleum, especially shale gas will be a game-changer for the Karoo region and the South African economy.

Having evaluated the risks and opportunities, the final regulations will be released soon and will be followed by the processing and granting of licenses.

We expect to conclude the procurement of nine thousand six hundred megawatts of nuclear energy.

Biofuels manufacturers have been selected and have started work.

Honourable Members

Ours is indeed a country at work and is a much better place to live in. We must keep the momentum.

Honourable Members,

More of our wealth is created through the internet or telecommunication.

A 37 000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable has been laid by the private and public sectors in the past five years. This will be significantly expanded in the years ahead.

We are proud of our successes in science and technology. The construction of the first telescope of the 64-dish forerunner to the Square Kilometre Array, the MeerKAT, will be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

Honourable Members,

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