Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- Finance minister Malusi Gigaba says that those who criticise the government – especially those in the black middle class – are undermining economic transformation in South Africa, with the recent economic woes (junk status, recession) happening because of the historic structure of the economy, which excludes black people from taking part. According to Gigaba, government is simply an easy target for naysayers to pick apart, and the black middle class are cowards for criticising it.
- Ratings firm Moody’s spared South Africa a third downgrade to junk status last week, but the one-notch cut with a negative outlook means that the country is once again on the edge, as it hangs one level above junk. The firm said that South Africa is facing great political and policy uncertainty, with another cut on the cards in 2017. If Moody’s puts South Africa in sub-investment grade, investors will be forced to pull out of the country, and we can watch approximately R120 billion in foreign investment disappear.
- The Cape storms, which include strong winds and heavy rain in Cape Town and wildfires which ravaged Knysna could cost insurance companies between R3 billion and R4 billion, making it the most expensive disaster to hit the country to date. Hailstorms in Joburg in 2013 cost insurers R1.6 billion. The Cape storms damaged over 1000 structures, while the fires hit over 20 suburbs. At least 12 people have died in the disasters.
- The ANC MK Veterans League is officially throwing its support behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, with the branch saying it respects Ramaphosa, but has always supported Dlamini-Zuma for the next leader of the party. However, the league itself is divided, with some members boycotting an address by president Jacob Zuma. Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says that some ANC leaders have betrayed Zuma like Judas betrayed Jesus.
- The rand was steady against foreign currencies on Friday as the market awaited the verdict fro Moody’s on the country’s credit rating. Following the announcement, the currency took a strong hit, weakening to just under R13 to the dollar. On Monday the rand crept back slightly, and was trading at R12.89 to the dollar, R16.45 to the pound and R14.44 to the euro. Finance minister Gigaba is expected to hold a media briefing on Monday morning.