Fitch downgrades South Africa's credit rating to junk status

Fitch downgrades South Africa's credit rating to junk status

Fitch downgrades South Africa's credit rating to junk status

The agency also cited the cost of South Africa's nuclear energy programme, likelihood that the reshuffled cabinet will give less priority to fiscal consolidation and tensions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

"Having said this, we are increasingly concerned at a trend of attacks and intimidation against those exercising their right to protest against Jacob Zuma's corrupt rule", he said.

ANC members gather to support President Jacob Zuma outside Luthuli House.

The South African rand has tumbled more than 11 percent since March 27, when Zuma ordered Gordhan to return home from overseas talks with investors, days before firing him.

Outside Cape Town, retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is in frail health, made an appearance to support the protests. His foundation posted a scathing tweet in his name: "We will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us".

Hundreds of veterans of the ANC's armed anti-apartheid struggle and members of the ruling party's youth wing have gathered outside its headquarters to prtoect the building.

The political uncertainty caused by Mr Zuma's cabinet changes led ratings agency Standard and Poor Global to downgrade South Africa's sovereign credit rating to junk status on Monday.

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"The announcement by Fitch is noted by government and while it is a setback, government remains committed to making sure that its work with business, labour and the civil society continues in order to improve the business confidence and implement structural reforms to accelerate inclusive economic growth".

"The people are not rebelling against the ANC, but it is monopoly capital that is manipulating our people to further its narrow agenda", he said of those who took part in Friday's protests.

Al Jazeera's Fahmida Miller, reporting from Pretoria, said the demonstrations are significant because "it's just the beginning of protests and marches by a large sector of South Africans calling for the president to resign". Some people with banners lined stretches of road or stood on overpasses; passing cars honked their horns.

He said the anti-Zuma marchers would never depose the democratically-elected government of the country because the ANC had delivered for the people.

The protestors' directed their anger at Zuma, with posters describing him as a "criminal" and a "Gupta puppet".

"I am marching to get the ANC to take us seriously and respect our wishes by letting the president go", she said. He has been hospitalized several times since 2015 because of infections linked to past treatment for prostate cancer.

Gordhan, a person of Indian origin, has become a symbol of the fight against corruption for refusing to approve several projects that would allegedly benefit businessmen close to Zuma.

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