PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma of South Africa has ruled out a Zimbabwe-style takeover of swathes of the white-owned economy.
He also dismissed a push for nationalisation of the crucial mining industry to resolve the country's gaping inequalities.
Mr Zuma (70) confirmed that he was ready for a second term as president of the African National Congress (ANC). The party meets on December 16 to choose a new president and Mr Zuma has fought off a revolt against his leadership.
After months of violent protests over the mines and within major industries, the president said his government would step up the pace of economic reform but would not "break" existing businesses to do so.
A vigorous nationalisation debate within the ANC, which gathered pace after 35 miners were shot dead at a platinum mine at Marikana, north of Johannesburg in August, has unsettled the country's business community.
The Rand has fallen in value to a three-and-a-half year low and the South African treasury has admitted difficulties with short-term funding. In the wider economy, less than half of those eligible have jobs, one of the lowest rates in the world.
Despite these pressures, Mr Zuma said he would not open the door to a radical state takeover of the economy.
"What has happened is that the ANC Youth League brought up [nationalisation] and it was discussed at national conference but we rejected it," he said. "That won't happen, not necessarily under my watch but not under the ANC watch."
Mr Zuma has struggled to establish himself as a credible leader of Africa's biggest economy. His government has been blighted by the administrative failures of principal policies and rampant corruption.
His private life has also become a national soap opera that overshadows his presidency. By the time he had attained the office in 2009, Mr Zuma had already faced a rape trial and corruption charges. He was cleared of the rape charge and 16 allegations of fraud, corruption and racketeering were dropped. (©Daily Telegraph, London)