Reacting to concerns that President Jacob Zuma’s public utterances are causing the rand’s slide, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told media on Thursday that the rand does not operate on what an individual does or says.
Speaking during a post-cabinet briefing, Gordhan said global markets are battling, with “flashes” like the sudden volatility of Monday, which made the rand fall to almost R18/$ at one point. It was trading at R16.55/$ at 12:00 on Thursday.
“The circumstances in which we find ourselves in are very complex,” he said in response to a question on whether the rand falls “every time President Jacob Zuma opens his mouth”.
“The world is in a terrible place,” he said. “The rand does not operate on what an individual does or says… but there are a wider set of factors that are at play.”
“You do not have to panic, you do not have to be anxious about our environment,” said Gordhan.
“I can assure you on behalf of government that I will do everything possible to stabilise our economy,” he said.
“South Africa is not going into a recession and is spending around R1.3 trillion every year,” he added. “The problem is that the economy is growing, but not fast enough enough.”
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said South Africa is in for a fraught time. “There are challenging circumstances ahead,” he said.
“Falling commodity prices and the reduced demand for exports because of difficult conditions, insufficient electricity supplies and the severe drought are just a few of the issues facing the country.
“South Africans have shown that they are resilient and know the value of working together and can work together,” he said.
Gordhan called on manufacturers to take advantage of the weakened rand by ramping up exports.