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download 1 South Africa’s sovereign credit rating was downgraded to junk status on Monday following an emergency S&P Global Ratings meeting at the weekend, Business Day reported.

The decision follows President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday where several ministers, including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, were axed. Experts say other ratings agencies are likely to follow suit. South Africa’s ability to borrow on the market took a hit within hours of Gordhan’s removal.

“We were hoping, today, for example, to raise R600-million in the bond market on a short-term basis — and bids for just over R200-million were actually offered, because there’s this concern about the economy rising from the announcements made yesterday,” Gordhan said on Friday.

S&P on Monday placed South Africa’s credit rating to speculative grade (commonly referred to as “junk”), a one-notch reduction to BB, and the ratings agency said “the economic crises President Jacob Zuma plunged the country into with his midnight cabinet reshuffle” prompted it to hold an emergency review at the weekend instead of June 2, as was scheduled, according to Business Day.

Moody’s scheduled review of South Africa is on Friday (April 7) and it remains unclear when Fitch, which has a near-junk status rating for the country at BBB-, will release its review.

It took just 90 hours after President Jacob Zuma axed Pravin Gordhan as finance minister for South Africa’s credit rating to be downgraded to junk status for the first time in 17 years.

The national treasury, steered by Gordhan, had made a concerted effort in the past 15 months to keep a dreaded ratings downgrade at bay but on Monday evening – almost four days after Gordhan was fired – Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P) announced that South Africa’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating would be downgraded to sub-investment grade or junk status. The local currency rating was also cut, but remains one notch above junk. S&P’s outlook on both ratings is negative.

The rand has continued to slide, reaching 13.67 to the dollar, an hour after the news of the ratings downgrade broke. Before rumours about Gordhan’s axing began to stir last Monday, the currency was at 12.20 to the dollar.