S&P: South Africa "is not business as usual"

The Africa head of ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said on Thursday the current situation in South Africa was “not business as usual,” citing “political turmoil and tension” as worrying signs ahead of a ratings decision on Dec. 2.

Addressing the Thomson Reuters Africa summit in Cape Town, Konrad Reuss also said S&P would be closely looking at South Africa’s economic growth trajectory and fiscal targets.

Reuss was speaking two days after the national prosecuting authority said it planned to charge Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for fraud, a ploy widely seen as an attempt by President Jacob Zuma to take control of the Treasury by removing the respected technocrat.

“This is not about political noise. We have political turmoil, political tension that can undermine structural reforms,” Reuss said.

He also said that any attempts to undermine South African state institutions would be negative for the rating.

S&P rates South Africa at BBB-, the lowest investment grade rating one notch above junk, and it maintained that rating in June while keeping its outlook negative, citing slow economic growth and political concerns.

 

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard and Ed Cropley; Editing by James Macharia and Hugh Lawson)

 

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