“We congratulate team South Africa, particularly government, business and labour for ensuring that the country’s sovereign debt credit rating status is not downgraded to junk status,” Zuma said in a statement.
He was commenting after ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global kept the foreign currency rating one notch above sub investment grade on Friday.
The Fitch ratings firm last week kept South Africa one notch above junk, but dropped its outlook from stable to negative. Shortly afterwards in the same week, Moody’s kept South Africa unchanged two notches above junk status.
Zuma hailed the decisions, putting them down to “unity in action and hard work… against a very volatile global economic climate”.
“Working together as government, business and labour we can overcome the current economic challenges and we must continue working hard and creatively to reignite growth so that jobs can be created for our people.”
Zuma assured international investors that South Africa remains an important and strategic investment destination.
While the country dodged junk status, S&P did lower the long-term local currency ratings.
“We affirmed the long- and short-term foreign currency ratings at ‘BBB-/A-3’. The outlook on the long-term ratings remains negative,” S&P said in a statement on its website.
The rand firmed sharply from an overnight close of R14.10 to the dollar and held steady at around R13.93/$ ahead of the S&P announcement.
Christie Viljoen, an economist at KPMG said he expected South Africa would not be downgraded.
“It’s good news that S&P still believes our institutions are strong and they don’t regard the political situation as that negative,” Viljoen said.
He said it was a pity the local currency rating dropped one notch to BBB.