Dairy cattle feed at a farm near Vado, New Mexico, Friday, March 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Cape Town – Agri SA on Tuesday said President Jacob Zuma must be held accountable for the actions that lead to Monday’s sovereign ratings downgrade by S&P Global, which would hit agricultural production in South Africa and potentially food security.

The country’s agricultural industry association said in a statement the rating downgrade to one grade below investment level, or so-called junk status, had come in the context of the recent cabinet reshuffle and the “lack in economic leadership from the president’s office”.

Agri SA said only six of the 23 countries S&P had downgraded to junk status over the last 19 years had recovered within five years. “To recover from a downgrade takes considerable effort from both political and economic sectors of society,” said Johannes Möller, president of Agri SA, adding that Zuma must now explain what he planned to do.

“This is a direct consequence of political decisions that were made, and will have an impact on currency volatility, devaluation of the rand, investor and sovereign lending terms, and would adversely affect agricultural production in South Africa, inwards investment and potentially food security,” said Omri van Zyl, executive director of Agri SA.

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“The president now needs to explain to South Africans what the plan is to get us out of this mess … If the president cannot explain his actions he must step down,” Möller added.