Ramaphosa calls for united front to help economy

Speaking on radio this morning, the deputy president said inequality in society remains a massive problem.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday called for a united response to help the economy.

Speaking on _CapeTalk _and 702 this morning, Ramaphosa said inequality in society remains a massive problem.

Ramaphosa bemoaned the high levels of poverty in the country.

"We are seeing a resurgence of tensions, a resurgence of terrible language and insults. We need to be asking ourselves key questions. One of the things that divides people is the fact that they have not really found fulfillment in their own lives, particularly when it comes to their economic prospects."

The Friday stand-in host, Melanie Verwoerd, asked Ramaphosa and ex-cabinet minister Roelf Meyer if the deputy president should become president.

"I hope before my life that it will happen," Meyer said.

Ramaphosa chose not to comment.

This comes as the rand weakened against the dollar early today as investors turned focus to Gupta job saga and a potential sovereign ratings downgrade.

At 0702 GMT, the rand traded at 15.2400 per dollar, 0.46 percent weaker from Thursday's New York close of 15.1700.

The currency had rallied more than three percent to its strongest in more than a week on Thursday after the Central Bank hiked interest rates.

"Factors to consider are any news on the political front, over the long weekend the ANC (African National Congress) is holding its NEC (National Executive Committee) Lekgotla and we await any news from Moody's who are currently in South Africa," Nedbank analysts said in a note, referring to a meeting of the top brass of the ruling party.

Analysts from Moody's credit rating agency were due to complete their three-day visit to South Africa on Friday after putting its Baa2 rating on review, according to the Treasury.

Investors fear further political uncertainty could hasten a downgrade, with Fitch and Standard & Poor's already rating the country just one step above junk status.

The government has been jolted this week by suggestions that a wealthy family with close ties to Zuma may have been behind his decision to sack former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December.

On the stock market, the benchmark Top-40 index was flat in early trade, sliding 0.02 percent.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark instrument due in 2026 down three basis points to 9.145 percent.

Additional reporting by Reuters.