Union demands

"In the face of the economic downturn  ... every cent must be spent wisely"

Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president

Zuma's union allies are demanding more spending and deeper interest rate cuts, but the president is wary of scaring off investors and told parliament the government had to spend wisely.

"Since the implementation of our programme will take place in the face of the economic downturn, we will have to act prudently - no wastage, no rollovers of funds - every cent must be spent wisely and fruitfully," he said.

Global financial woes have hit demand for minerals and manufactured goods from South Africa, making it harder for Zuma to satisfy the demands of unions who would like to push policies to the left.