Cape Town – Friday's downgrade by Fitch Ratings of both South Africa’s foreign and local currency credit ratings to “junk status” is a devastating blow to the economy and yet another damning indictment of President Jacob Zuma and those who persist in defending him, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said.
"Jacob Zuma has sabotaged our economy and the hopes of millions of South Africans to benefit himself, his family, and the Guptas. It is the poor who will suffer the most, as there will be less money available for basic services and jobs will be shed," he said.
"There is only one way to get rid of Zuma. Parliament must vote him out. In the face of South Africa’s now-official 'junk status' and overwhelming opposition to Jacob Zuma shown throughout the country [on Friday], I call upon the ANC caucus in Parliament to reconsider their illogical decision to vote for Zuma in the motion of no confidence in 11 days’ time.
"Parliament holds the power to fire Jacob Zuma and all that stands in our way is the ANC." Two reasons were offered by Fitch for their downgrade – that Zuma’s latest cabinet reshuffle and firing of Pravin Gordhan would weaken the standards of governance in South Africa, and that new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s promises to not change fiscal policy were in conflict with Zuma’s promise to achieve “radical socioeconomic transformation”.
This showed it was Zuma’s conduct which had directly brought about this downgrade, Maimane said. The downgrade to 'junk status' of both the foreign and rand-denominated ratings, would have a severe impact on the country. The ability of the National Treasury to compensate for the budget deficit, through the issuance of bonds, was now placed at risk. Foreign investors were now likely to also steer away from South Africa at a time when the country needed investment to create jobs.
"On a day [Friday] that hundreds of thousands of South Africans across the country came out to protest against President Zuma, and our country suffered a further downgrade to 'junk status' the case for firing Jacob Zuma is now undeniable.
"This is the surest sign that confidence in Jacob Zuma has reached rock-bottom. It is now only the ANC that remains in his corner," Maimane said.