SOUTH Africa’s economic growth for last year moderated to its slowest pace since the recession in 2009 as a drought took its toll on agricultural output and had spillover effects on sectors such as manufacturing.

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 1.3% last year compared with 1.5% in 2014, Statistics SA data showed on Tuesday.

The main contributors were the finance, mining, trade, and accommodation sectors while the main negative contribution came from agriculture sector, which has been gripped by the worst drought since the 1990s.

Quarterly data showed that economic growth slowed mainly on a sharp decline in agriculture.

GDP rose by a seasonally adjusted and annualised 0.6% in the fourth quarter of last year after increasing by 0.7% in the third quarter.

The main contributors to growth in the fourth quarter were the wholesale, retail and motor trade; catering and accommodation; finance, real estate and business services; and general government services.

Agriculture shrunk 14% over the quarter. "It is a very significant shrinking. Certainly the drought has impacted both employment and industrial output," statistician-general Pali Lehohla said.

The contraction of the agricultural sector raised questions about food security and the dominance of white commercial farmers, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday.

Cosatu warned that growth in the financial sector pointed to structural problems in SA, saying the statistics represented further evidence of the federation’s claims the economy was becoming “deliberately” over-financialised.

The federation called for accelerated economic diversification warning that the recent announcement of the 2016 budget that pointed to “austerity mode” which would “be made worse by the fact that big business continues to be on an investment strike and they also continue to take their profits out of the country”.

“These GDP numbers are an indictment on big business and shows that they have no developmental consciousness and are not invested in the future of this country,” the federation said.