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The economic promise of post-apartheid South Africa is fading

Things look pretty bleak in South Africa right now. The political chaos of the present has made the economic future uncertain—and the lexicon of credit-ratings firms part of everyday conversations here.

Ever since president Jacob Zuma removed finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015, South Africans have feared the assessments of credit ratings firms like Standard & Poor’s watching the political upheaval. Nene’s replacement, David van Rooyen, lasted for less than week. His replacement, Pravin Gordhan, was finance minister before Nene took over in mid-2014. Gordhan’s second stint in the post lasted a bit more than a year—on March 31, Zuma fired him.

This was the last straw for the ratings agencies. On April 3, the downgrade everyone feared came to pass.



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