South African President Jacob Zuma says police will continue to "act swiftly" against protesters who have taken to the streets to demand better government services.

Speaking to a group of business leaders, Mr. Zuma said people have the right to protest, but he said there is "no justification for violence, looting ... or attacks on foreign nationals."

Demonstrators calling for improved housing, water and electricity services have blocked roads and set fires in townships around Johannesburg this week.   In one incident, police fired rubber bullets to break up an unruly crowd.

The protests mark one of the first major challenges for Mr. Zuma, who took office in May.

Africa's biggest economy also has been hit by a series of labor strikes.  A labor union says South African chemical and paper companies have increased an offer to boost wages by nine percent, which is less than workers have demanded.  The union says it will consider the offer over the coming days.