The decision by S&P Global to downgrade South Africa to junk status is not surprising but gravely concerning in the face of the country’s sluggish economic growth and high unemployment, Inkatha Freedom Party said on Tuesday.
S&P Global on Monday lowered the country’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating from ‘BBB-‘ to ‘BB+’, which is one notch below investment grade, or so-called junk status.
The international ratings agency said it was their opinion that “the executive changes initiated by President Zuma have put at risk fiscal and growth outcomes”.
“Mr Zuma has actively pursued a downgrade against all sound advice and warnings; and last week with his rogue cabinet reshuffle he put in the final nail into our economic coffin,” IFP’s spokesperson on finance, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said in a statement.
“On the back of this downgrade by Standard and Poor’s, Mr Zuma must resign.”
The credit-ratings downgrade comes on the back of the biggest Cabinet reshuffle since 1996, which saw the removal of key ministers, especially Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Hlengwa said the Cabinet reshuffle was nothing but a “pure political purge” with its sight set on capturing National Treasury to loot the public purse.
He said the downgrade was actively engineered by Zuma because of “his hard-headed attitude and arrogant approach” to rational thought about what is good for South Africa.
“South Africa is in crisis and this crisis is not an event but a systematic process which traces its genesis to Polokwane 2007,” Hlengwa said.
“Mr Zuma is not fit for purpose, he must just once in his life do what is in the best interests of South Africa and resign. We can ill-afford continuing with this rogue man masquerading as President.”
Hlengwa said the economy was bleeding and the poorest of the poor would bear the brutal brunt of this downgrade, which could have and should have been avoided.