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Opposition exploiting mining unrest - Zuma

President Jacob Zuma warned that loose talk could make things worse for the economy.

President Jacob Zuma delivering the Presidency Budget vote in the National Assembly on 12 June 2013. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has accused the official opposition of exploiting troubles in the mining sector for political point scoring.

He made the comments during the Presidency's budget vote debate in Parliament, Cape Town.

The president was clearly hitting back at the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Congress of the People (Cope).

On Wednesday, the two parties blamed Zuma's lack of leadership for problems facing South Africa, especially in the mining sector.

Zuma said last year's strikes in the mining sector dented growth and prevented job creation.

"If it was not for the mining strikes, the economy could've created more than 57,000 jobs."

The president called on opposition parties to put the interests of the country first.

"It is disturbing that some parties see an opportunity for mudslinging instead of supporting the process."

Zuma warned that loose talk could make things worse for the economy.

"The bottom line is that we should exercise caution in dealing with such matters and avoid uninformed or loose talk that may exacerbate the situation."

On Wednesday, Zuma said he was optimistic labour tensions in the mining sector would be resolved soon.

He said it was important for both labour and business not to undermine the economy.

"It is not in the interest of the country to have a tense labour relations environment which is characterised by a weakening of collective bargaining mechanisms, illegal wildcat strikes, violent protests and loss of lives.

"What we require from social partners is a commitment to resolves labour disputes peacefully and within the framework of the law, in the interest of workers, employers and the country as a whole."

Zuma said he remained hopeful the team led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe would succeed in stabilising the troubled sector.