Will South Africa’s president survive the latest political storm?

Protesters with placards in Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, April 7, 2017: South Africans took to the streets in the tens of thousands to protest the president’s controversial moves (source: dpa)
  • Two out of the world’s three top rating agencies downgraded South Africa’s credit to junk status following President Jacob Zuma’s controversial firing of a finance minister
  • Charges of economic ignorance and of blatant influence peddling have put the president in jeopardy, even though the ruling National African Congress (NAC) retains a comfortable majority in parliament
  • Considering the depth of the crisis and the broad opposition to Mr. Zuma, South Africa faces the prospect of serious escalation – unless the country’s black and white elites rise to the occasion

April 2017 was a gloomy month for the Republic of South Africa (RSA). Fitch Ratings downgraded the country’s securities across the board, to sub-investment grade. The decision followed a similar move by Standard & Poor’s – announced immediately after South African President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet on March 30, prompting the fiercest political crisis in many years. The root of the crisis was a conflict between the two sacked ministers and the politically well-connected owners of a powerful business group, the Gupta brothers.

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