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South Africa remains committed to
measured fiscal consolidation: president 

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African government remains committed to a measured fiscal consolidation that stabilizes the rise in public debt, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

It is more important than ever now that South Africans unite as a country and work together in light of the unrelenting socioeconomic challenges that they face, Zuma said at the launch of the Trans-Africa Locomotive project in Koedoespoort, Gauteng Province.

Zuma was speaking one day after international rating agency Standard & Poor (S&P) lowered the long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating on South Africa to ‘BB+’ from ‘BBB-‘ and the long-term local currency rating to ‘BBB-‘ from ‘BBB’.

It was the first time in 17 years that South Africa’s sovereign credit was downgraded to junk status.

S&P said it made the decision in light with the cabinet reshuffle effected by President Jacob Zuma last week.

The reshuffle, which saw Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan being sacked, put South Africa’s fiscal and growth outcomes at risk, the agency said.

“The downgrade reflects our view that the divisions in the ANC-led government that have led to changes in the executive leadership, including the finance minister, have put policy continuity at risk,” S&P said.

Zuma defended the cabinet reshuffle, saying the reshuffle will add renewed energy into cabinet and the executive as a whole.

While the political leadership has changed, the government’s overall policy orientation remains the same as derived from the governing party, the African National Congress, said Zuma.

A smooth transition in the finance portfolio has taken place, which shows the maturity of leadership within the governing party, Zuma said.

“A united and stable National Treasury and finance portfolio as a whole is absolutely critical for government and the country,” he said.

Zuma said he has directed newly-appointed Minister of Finace Malusi Gigaba and Deputy Finance Minister Sifiso Buthelezi to immediately prioritize unity, peace, cohesion and stability within the finance portfolio.

This will enable all components of the portfolio to focus on the tasks at hand, said Zuma.

He pledged to continue to work with business and labour to take forward the work of the CEO Initiative which was established last year to reignite growth, while also strengthening the Presidential Business Working Group where the Presidency interacts with all components of business.

Gigaba and his team will also be reaching out to the international investor community urgently to assure them that South Africa remains a stable, reliable and competitive investment destination, according to Zuma.


South African stocks close firmer despite S&P downgrade

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) was firmer on Tuesday despite S&P Global Ratings downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to subinvestment grade.

Moody’s was also expected to downgrade SA’s credit rating following its statement on Monday that it was placing the country’s Baa2 rating on review.

The all share was up 0.39 percent at 52,660.74 points and the blue-chip top 40 added 0.41 percent. Banks extended their losses from last Thursday and down by 0.1 percent, while financials shed 0.04 percent.

Gold miners firmed 3.98 percent, platinum stocks gained 5.05 percent and resources gained 1.34 percent.

Among commodity stocks that have global exposure, Glencore added 2.06 percent to R53.96 and Anglo American rose 1.46 percent to R207.1. Sasol gained 0.04 percent to R405.16.

The four major banks were down, Standard Bank lost 0.68 percent to R142.68.

British American Tobacco lost 0.58 percent to R885.82. Sibanye lost 0.7 percent to R32.79.

Platinum miner Anglo American firmed 3.08 percent to R317.95 and Impala Platinum gained 4.77 percent to R48.5.


Rwandan FM says relations with South Africa have improved

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Tuesday that the country’s relations with South Africa have significantly improved.

She made the remarks while a dressing a news conference about Rwanda’s diplomatic relations with different countries across the globe.

“Rwanda’s ties with South Africa have improved. Our relations are at a much better place than they were a few years back,” she said.

Muhsikiwabo noted that both countries had moved forward and beyond some of the tension that had been there since 2010.

Rwanda and South Africa, diplomatic ties severed in 2010 when Kigali accused the latter country for being a safe haven for the Rwandan fugitives.

In 2014, the two countries cut ties as they both expelled diplomats from either side after a fierce diplomatic row triggered by accusations that Rwandan security agents were committing crimes in South Africa.

South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats and Kigali retaliated by sending home six South African diplomats. Both countries, however, maintained ambassadors from either country.

However, Mushikiwabo said that, the two countries have since decided to normalize relations, including engaging in intra-trade and strengthening diplomatic ties.



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