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Govt. won’t take sides – Zuma

The president said government's intervention in the mining sector will be impartial.

President Zuma says all sides involved in mining sector troubles are treated equally and fairly. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Government's intervention in the troubled mining sector is impartial and all sides will be treated equally, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

He made the comments during a briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria to discuss the state of the industry and economy.

The president called on all stakeholders to help stabalise and strengthen the volatile sector.

Zuma said mining remained the cornerstone of the country's economy.

When asked about the battle between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), Zuma assured that negotiations would be fair.

He also announced that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe would lead the intervention.

"I don't think the government has taken any stance that takes sides when it comes to how we relate to the miners or labour organisations at the mine."

Zuma added disappointing gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter means the economy will have to grow at a faster pace for the rest of year.

Statistics revealed the country's GDP increased by 0,9 percent, down from 2,5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The president said South Africa needed a stable mining sector in order to grow the economy.

"Without faster growth, we cannot succeed in reducing unemployment, poverty and inequality."

The sector has been hit by wildcat strikes over the last few weeks and months.

In August, 34 striking miners were gunned down during a confrontation with police at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West.

On May 21, 10 miners from Lanxess chrome mine were injured after security guards fired rubber bullets at them.

In the latest wave of unprotected strikes, Glencore Xstrata on Thursday confirmed three of its mines in Limpopo have been affected by work stoppages.

Around 1,500 miners affiliated to Amcu downed tools on Tuesday after an employee claimed he was assaulted by a supervisor.

Some 200 employees have been dismissed.

Meanwhile, the rand continued its downward slide against the United Sates (US) dollar despite Zuma's speech.

The rand broke through the psychological R10-level against dollar in Thursday afternoon trade.

This is the weakest the rand has been against the dollar in over four years.

Economist Mike Schüssler said the rand's weakness is bad for the economy.

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