CLOSER TO THE BRINK
Ratings: how SA slipped back to 1995
With huge revenue shortfalls looming, government will have to take sustained corrective action in the wake of yet another downgrade, more job losses and plummeting business confidence
This time last year, when Pravin Gordhan and business leaders presented a united front to the rating agencies, SA was spared a single downgrade. This year, with the compromised Malusi Gigaba at the helm, the country has been downgraded by all three. Last Friday it was Moody’s turn. It cut SA’s sovereign ratings by one notch, putting both the foreign-and local-currency ratings on the cusp of junk, one notch above Fitch, which junked all SA’s ratings in April. SA has a split rating with S&P. It junked SA’s foreign-currency rating in April but the local-currency rating remains investment grade.Moody’s faith in SA was vindicated as growth rebounded and debt was shed over the following decade. Moody’s led the other rating agencies on the way up, hiking SA’s ratings consistently to peak at A3, four notches above junk status, in June 2009. However, since 2012, Moody’s has downgraded SA three times, following the path laid by S&P and Fitch, which have led on the way down. As long as Gordhan...