File picture: Denis Farrell, AP

Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) yesterday said it was concerned by the drop in the value of the rand to a record low of just below R18 to the US dollar.

“This is a very crucial issue in our country, especially for the poor,” the ANCYL said in a statement.

The league accused Barclays of “excessively and aggressively selling our currency”. Barclays owns Barclays Africa Group, which is one of South Africa’s big-four banks and was formerly known as Absa.

“The excessive selling by Barclays has in turn reduced the demand for the South African rand. They have not been doing it alone. They have been doing this with the assistance of their American counterparts, Goldman Sachs,” the ANCYL said.

A Barclays Africa spokesperson declined to comment, while Goldman Sachs could not immediately be reached for comment. The claims by the ANCYL come after the rand lost more than 15 percent against the US dollar in December amid the market ructions that followed the unexpected sacking of then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene by President Jacob Zuma.

On Monday the rand hit a fresh record low of R17.91 against the US dollar, amid a sell-off compounded by concerns about the outlook for the Chinese economy, a major buyer of many of South Africa’s commodities.

The rand subsequently recouped some of the losses to trade at R16.46 late yesterday. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs’ global markets team had identified shorting the rand as one of its top trades for this year due to falling commodity prices and South Africa’s current account deficit, Business Report reported yesterday.