No ratings downgrade for SA

The weekend was surely jovial for many after S&P Global Ratings announced late Friday that it had kept its assessment of South Africa’s foreign-currency debt at BBB- (one level above non-investment grade), with a negative outlook, while cutting the local-currency rating to BBB.

S&P said in its statement:

"We have lowered the long-term local currency ratings on South Africa because its fiscal financing needs are increasing beyond our previous base-case expectations, while the proportion of rand turnover in the global foreign exchange market has declined over the last three years."

The news followed both Moody's and Fitch's announcements of early last week - Moody's rating it one step higher and Fitch leaving SA's foreign-currency assessment at one level above junk.

In a statement released after S&P's announcement, the National Treasury said it recognises what needs to be done and is committed to implementing the reforms needed. Lungisa Fuzile (pictured) head of the Treasury, said that while we could celebrate for a "few hours", come this week we would need to "roll up our sleeves and get down to work and do what is necessary to make sure that come six months' time we will not be panicking".

David Maynier, the DA's spokesperson on finance, said in a statement that the party welcomed S&P's decision:

"The fact that S&P has not downgraded its sovereign credit rating to junk status amounts to a second stay of execution for South Africa. However, the ratings agency once again raised serious concerns about political dynamics stating that "political events have distracted from growth enhancing reforms in South Africa… The Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, together with the team at National Treasury, and the South African Reserve Bank, deserve full credit for their hard work avoiding a sovereign credit ratings downgrade of South Africa."