Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday said he was informed of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Global’s decision to cut South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk status last week, on his first day as finance minister.
“When I spoke on Saturday, I indicated that I had spoken to Moody’s and Fitch. I did not mention S&P because when I walked into office on Friday, they had made their decision. They had taken their decision. They did afford us the courtesy of informing us,” Gigaba told journalists at the National Treasury in Pretoria.
“By Friday already when I arrived, the decision had been made. We felt that, at that point it was not necessary to talk to them because we were not going to change the decision. But we intend talking to them going forward. There are plans.”
The minister said when he addressed media on Friday, and on Saturday, he could not divulge the downgrade earlier.
“The reason I did not take you into my confidence with regards to the S&P decision is because they had also taken me into their confidence. So I could not undermine that courtesy which they accorded me by further divulging the content of what they had told me in confidence,” said Gigaba.
“I think it’s just a matter of principle and integrity when somebody does that. I hope you understand that. It may not be the best outcome, but I think it’s something that works.”
Gigaba said he was planning to lead a delegation of business people, labour and other stakeholders to meet the international rating agencies.
Calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign have been mounting since the downgrading of South Africa to junk status by ratings agency S&P Global was announced on Monday.
Another ratings agency, Moody’s, announced on Tuesday that it has placed the country’s creditworthiness on review.
Zuma fired former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and replaced him with Gigaba late on Thursday.