#SonaDebate: Zuma focuses on economy

President Zuma says his address last week was about uniting the country to boost the economy.

"A screen grab of President Jacob Zuma addressing parliament on 18 February 2016, during his reply to the State of the Nation debate.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has once again highlighted the country's economic crisis in his response to his State of the Nation Address (Sona) debate.

He says his address last week was about uniting the country to boost the economy.

"Our country, together with many other economies in the world, face a challenging economic reality. Eight years since the financial crisis, the global economy continues to show signs of strain."

He then referred to government's position to stop wasteful expenditure.

"We still focus on correcting domestic circumstances that have affected confidence and the economy."

Zuma says business has also been consulted about averting another downgrade.

"We've met four times with businesses since mid-January and the partnership is yielding results."

At the same time, security at Parliament's gone into overdrive, with the precinct virtually surrounded by razor wire and police much in evidence - echoing the ring of steel behind which he delivered his speech a week ago.

Zuma is responding to two days of often fractious debate when opposition parties accused him of sabotaging the economy and hammered him over Nkandla and his links to the Gupta family.

In his reply last year, President Zuma avoided rising to the bait of opposition attacks on him and promised the government was working to remove bottlenecks holding back the economy.

He may again choose to ignore the chorus of disapproval vented over the past two days from opposition parties.

Zuma's speech last week was welcomed for its focus on the economy, but criticised for offering little in the way of new thinking to pull the economy out of its decline.

Ministers have defended the government's turnaround plan.

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance (DA) has questioned the security crackdown at Parliament, saying there was no warning to party whips.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen says Parliament's been turned into a prison.

He says the party wants to know the cost involved and is seeking an explanation from the Parliamentary Oversight Authority.

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