Zuma steers clear of opposition’s attacks during #SonaDebate

The president says there are many positives to build on despite the global economic crisis.

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 called for unity as the country faces tough economic ties.

He earlier responded to parties' debate of his State of the Nation Address (Sona) delivered a week ago.

President Zuma steered clear of reacting to opposition attacks over firing finance ministers, Nkandla U-turns and the Gupta family.

Instead he continued to focus on the economy, stressing the need for the country to avoid being downgraded to 'junk status'.

He was responding to two days of debate by opposition parties to his

Zuma told Members of Parliament (MPs) efforts to improve relations between the government, business and labour are on track; he's suggested it is also time for political parties to get on board.

His basic message was that without economic growth, jobs would be at stake and insisted it was time to unite behind the goal of getting the economy moving.

Zuma also expressed sympathy for the families of the mine workers trapped in the Lily Mine disaster - something he was criticised for not doing last week.

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Zuma says there are many positives to build on despite the global economic crisis.

He has reflected on some of the issues in his address last week, including emphasis on state owned enterprises.

"Improving the management and governance of the state-owned enterprises that are facing difficulties in appointing right people with the appropriate skills."

He says the country will survive the economic crisis.

"While the situation remains difficult, there are many positives in the economy for us to build on."

Turning to corruption, the president says action is being taken, with the assets forfeiture unit achieving results.

"The unit completed 463 assets forfeiture cases worth about R2 billion."

On education, Zuma says money has been allocated to certain sectors.

"Government is scheduled to connect 2892 schools to the internet this year."

The Economic Freedom Fighters were absent from the house and Zuma proceeded unhindered.