BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa (Reuters) - South Africa is not "falling apart" and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) can run the continent's biggest economy, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday, as he sought to dispel the concerns of rating agencies and investors about sluggish growth.
In his opening address to an ANC conference to choose its leadership for the next five years, Zuma said two downgrades by international ratings agencies this year did not mean South Africa was in trouble.
"We want to dismiss the perceptions that our country is falling apart because of the downgrades," he said. "We continue to do our development work, we continue to plan for a recovery."
Zuma said the government was relying on its long-term National Development Plan as its strategy for undoing the "glaring and deep" inequalities left by decades of white-minority apartheid rule, which ended in 1994.
"Today, the ratings agencies and investors are asking whether the ANC can continue to manage this economy so that we can grow, create jobs, manage our debt and provide policy certainty," Zuma said.
"Yes, the ANC will continue to provide strong economic leadership and steer our economy boldly."
South Africa's economy is forecast to grow 2.5 percent this year, well short of the 7 percent the government says is needed to make a serious dent in 25 percent unemployment.
(Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)
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