Ratings firm Moody’s on Thursday warned that proposed plans by South Africa’s government to implement “radical economic transformation” could turn away investors and rising poverty may curb Treasury’s efforts to rein in fiscal deficits.
Moody’s said in a research report that plans for land redistribution, preferential procurement and other forms of affirmative actions could deter investors.
On Wednesday, the monthly business confidence index fell to the lowest level since mid-1980s as political scandals and policy uncertainty continued to weigh.
In June, Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to Baa3, the bottom of the investment grade table, with a negative outlook citing the abrupt sacking of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in March.
“Some proposals, such as the recently drafted mining charter, present risks to growth by reducing regulatory stability and further undermining investor confidence,” said Moody’s senior analyst Zuzana Brixiova said in the note.
The revised mining laws, published by minerals ministry in June, require companies to increase their black ownership from 26 percent to 30 percent or possibly see their licenses revoked.
Mining shares fell to more than one-year lows when Minister Mosebenzi Zwane released the revised charter, and its implementation has since been suspended after a lobby group challenged it in court.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is due to hold an election in December to replace President Jacob Zuma as its leader, and several factions are jostling for power.
Radical economic transformation, a vague ANC plan to tackle racial inequality, has emerged as the key rallying point for the two main factions led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma respectively.
The ANC, in power since 1994 following the end of apartheid, is also keen to woo back voters ahead of national polls in 2019 after losing three key urban municipalities to opposition coalitions in local government elections in 2016.
Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia and Pritha Sarkar
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