Newly-appointed Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene has admitted he’s taken over at a difficult time for the South African economy but says there is no reason for panic.
Replacing Pravin Gordhan, Nene has taken the reins at a time when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) appears to be sliding, the rand is struggling to stay afloat and industrial action, particularly in the mining sector, is threatening to drag the entire economy down even further.
The economy contracted by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of the year, mainly due to the country’s longest and costliest ever mining strike which is still underway on the platinum belt.
At the same time, the rand has been sitting near a two-month low against the US dollar.
Speaking to Talk Radio 702’s Xolani Gwala on Wednesday evening, Nene agreed there’s reason to be concerned.
“It is a challenging period on our economy,” Nene conceded. However, he noted that the situation is similar across the globe.
“But that’s no excuse for complacency,” he said, suggesting the country needs to accelerate infrastructure development plans and put more energy into resolving the strike.
“If that happens,” said Nene, “we are likely to weather the storm.”
Further, the minister said despite the economy contracting, he’s confident the country will not face a new recession.
“We are actually quite confident that we are not in as bad a position as people [think].”