Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has called on President Jacob Zuma to engage with her in a public debate on the state of the economy.
“I will today be writing to President Zuma, calling for a public debate,” she said in a statement.
“All South Africans are presently deeply concerned about the state of our country, and particularly our economy.”
The presidency said in a statement today that Zuma had not received Zille’s request.
The DA leader said Zuma had not proved himself worthy of leading the country in the wake of escalating labour protests and the downgrading of the country’s credit rating.
“The last few months will be remembered as one of the most trying times in our democratic history and yet President Zuma has not offered the leadership that South Africans expect from a president,” she said.
“We cannot continue to muddle through a slow economic decline with more people becoming unemployed and poor people becoming steadily poorer.”
Zille said the DA’s growth and jobs plan, if implemented, would help the country’s economy to grow and create “shared prosperity in a climate of policy certainty”.
“The president has not done the same. He is completely silent on economic policy … and we have heard no serious positioning statement from him or his government on the current state of our economy,” she said.
“What is his plan to prevent further downgrades and ensure future upgrades to our credit rating? What is his position on the illegal strikes which have killed innocent people and threaten our entire mining industry? Does he have a plan at all?” she asked.
In response, the statement by the Presidency said: “President Zuma is currently working with key stakeholders on the state of the economy, under the auspices of the Presidency High Level Dialogue on the Economy.”
The High Level meeting, which took place on Friday, will reconvene on Wednesday.
The Presidency added that, “while we encourage all South Africans to freely express their views”, there was “no need to engage in any exercise that diverts attention from getting stakeholders to work together.”