As D-day for the economy approaches, finance minister Tito Mboweni conceded that "things don’t look good", even as he hoped that the country would retain its tenuous hold on its last remaining investment-grade rating.

"The ratings agencies are our friends and our tormentors," Mboweni said in parliament on Thursday, joking that committee members from the African Christian Democratic Party should help with prayers ahead of Moody’s Investors Service’s review on Friday.

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