Rand tumbles further as Zuma backlash grows

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Not exactly a vote of confidence.

The rand is showing little sign of recovering as the dust begins to settle after President Zuma’s midnight cabinet clearout last week, falling further in early trading on Monday morning.

The departure of finance minister Pravin Gordhan last week prompted the rand’s worst week since December 2015 (which, not coincidentally, was the last time Mr Zuma sacked a finance minister), and it was down a further 1 per cent at publication time, to 13.55 per dollar.

South Africa’s sovereign bonds have also lost almost all the gains they had made since the start of the year, with yields – which rise when prices fall – climbing a further 7.1 basis points (0.071 percentage points) on Monday morning to 8.926 per cent.

While modest compared to last week, when the country’s bonds were among the most-heavily traded in the world and the 10-year yield repeatedly bounced more than 20bps a day, South Africa’s sovereign debt is still comfortably the worst-performing of any G20 country this morning.

Malusi Gigaba, Mr Gordhan’s successor in the Treasury, has pledged to defend the country’s investment-grade credit rating, but analysts are expecting it to suffer a series of downgrades.

Moody’s – which has the highest rating on South Africa of any of the major ratings agencies – is due to make a decision on the government’s credit rating this week, while Fitch has already warned that the turmoil could lead it to review its rating, which is already only one notch above junk.

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