OPINION

Fitch downgrade will make SA poorer - Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says ANC caucus in parliament should help junk the President

Fitch Downgrade will make SA poorer: Time to "junk" Jacob Zuma

This afternoon’s downgrade by Fitch Ratings of both South Africa’s foreign and local currency credit ratings to “junk status” is a devastating blow to our economy, and yet another damning indictment of Jacob Zuma and those who persist in defending him.

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.

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 today, 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 are offered by Fitch for their downgrade: that Jacob Zuma’s latest cabinet reshuffle and firing of Pravin Gordhan will weaken the standards of governance in South Africa, and that new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s promises to not change fiscal policy are in conflict with the President’s promise to achieve “radical socioeconomic transformation”. This shows that it is Jacob Zuma’s conduct which has directly brought about this downgrade.

The downgrade to “junk status” of both our foreign and rand-denominated ratings, will have a severe impact on our country. The ability of our treasury to compensate our budget deficit, through the issuance of bonds, is now placed at risk.

Foreign investors are now likely to also steer away from South Africa, at a time when we need investment to create jobs.

On a day 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.

Statement issued by Mmusi Maimane, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 7 April 2017