SA needs to deliver growth, says ratings agency

S&P Global Ratings has said that infighting in the ANC could derail government efforts to improve policy implementation.

FILE: Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s sovereign credit rating could come under pressure if the country’s economic growth and fiscal performance do not improve, the head of the sub-Saharan region of S&P Global Ratings said on Wednesday.

“We have certain expectations with regard to gross domestic product (GDP) growth and certain expectations with regard to fiscal improvements. If there is no delivery in this regard, that could certainly put pressure on the rating,” Konrad Reuss told a conference in Johannesburg.

S&P rates South Africa BBB-, one level above “junk” status, with a negative outlook.

S&P also said on Tuesday infighting in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) could derail government efforts to improve policy implementation and that Pretoria had little room to increase spending.

The ANC will pick a new leader at a conference in December.

The party has dominated politics since coming to power at the end of apartheid in 1994, so the winner is likely to become South Africa’s next president when elections are held in 2019.

“The message is clear. Do the right thing even while contesting for leadership,” Reuss said.

South Africa also faces possible credit downgrades from Fitch and Moody’s, and the Treasury has warned a downgrade to sub-investment grade could push borrowing costs higher, sink the currency and hurt already ailing growth.

Fitch rates South Africa BBB-, its lowest investment-grade rating, with a negative outlook. Moody’s rating is Baa2, two levels above sub-investment grade, also with a negative outlook.