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Rand to remain weak this year - poll

Thirty-two analysts see the rand weakening to R9.69 against the greenback in one month.

A Reuters poll found SA’s rand will remain weak with ongoing unrest in the mining sector.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's rand will remain weak over the next year on expectations of a persistently wide current account gap, with the threat of labour unrest in its mining sector acting as a further drag, a Reuters poll found.

Thirty-two analysts see the rand, already down more than 16 percent verse the dollar this year, weakening to 9.69 against the greenback in one month, but then rallying moderately to 9.36 by the end of the year and to 9.21 in 12 months' time.

The rand is expected to remain weak through the year, unable to breach the 9 per dollar level considered a psychological barrier by many traders.

"We are still predominantly concerned about the stronger dollar environment, softer global commodity prices, higher US Treasury yields and South Africa's stubbornly wide current account deficit," said Mike Keenan at Absa Capital.

In May, the rand lost 12 percent, triggered by data showing slower than expected economic growth and the effects of a deadly union turf war between two rival unions for dominance in the Rustenburg mining belt.

"Weakness appears to have been driven by local factors," said Shilan Shah at Capital Economics in London.

"The most significant of these is growing fears over labour unrest in the mining sector as sector-wide wage negotiations are imminent," he added.

Over half of South Africa's exports come from mining, and further disruptions to production would likely hurt the economy and the currency.

Last week, President Jacob Zuma's efforts to reassure investors that last year's violent industrial action in the mining sector would not be repeated was met with more losses for the currency, a nearly 3 percent plunge against the dollar two hours after the speech.

This year South Africa has not seen the kind of labour-related violence as in 2012, when 34 striking mine workers were killed in a single day. Some 50 people died in total.