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Zweli Mkhize optimistic about SA economy

The ANC treasurer general says despite some challenges, he remains positive.

Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize says despite some challenges, he is still positive about the economy and the prospects of turning things around.

Mkhize is speaking at The Gathering event in Midrand.

While the GDP has contracted by 1.2%, Mkhize says he is optimistic about the future.

"At the end of the day, the resilience of the South African economy and its diversity is a strong source of strength because many investors look at South Africa as an important destination for investment, particularly as we want to expand into the rest of the continent."

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says he's more optimistic about the future of South Africa now than he's ever been, despite the economic challenges, such as the contraction in GDP.

Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema says his party will not fight for white people because they can't remained privileged.

MANUFACTURING OUTPUTS RECOVER, MINING FALLS

Official data released on Thursday showed that manufacturing output rose more than expected in April a bright spot in the country's economy facing declining production in its key mining sector.

Manufacturing rose by 2.9% year-on-year in April after falling by a revised 2.4% in March, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said.

On a month-on-month basis, factory production was up 0.8%, and rose 1.1% in the three months to April compared with the previous three months.

"Today's figures suggest that the economy gained a bit of momentum at the beginning of second quarter. The mining and manufacturing sectors will play key role in determining whether South Africa avoids a second quarter of contraction, and thus a technical recession," Africa economist at Capital Economics, John Ashbourne, said in a note.

Separately, Stats SA said mining output fell by 6.9% in April from a revised record fall of 17.8% in March.

Mining contributes nearly 8% to South Africa's GDP. The country is a top producer of platinum, gold, iron ore among other minerals.

BNP Paribas Securities economist Jeffrey Schultz said the mining sector was in a recession with production growth already down 10% year-on-year in the first four months of 2016.

"The outlook for the industry remains unsettling given a subdued commodity price outlook, wage negotiations in the platinum sector which kick off soon and depressed confidence and investment in the sector as policy uncertainty continues to weigh," he said.

The economy contracted more than expected in the first quarter mainly due to a slide in the mining sector, putting it on track for its first recession in seven years.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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