Economics, Business in Africa
At the beginning of 2016, South Africa faced what Songezo Zibi, outgoing editor of Business Day, termed a “perfect storm”. President Jacob Zuma’s December 2015 decision to replace finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with David van Rooyen, an African National Congress (ANC) backbencher, had dealt the country its biggest financial blow since the start of democracy in 1994 . Nene’s dismissal caused the value of local stocks and bonds to decline by half a trillion rand, according to one estimate, while the currency fell to a record low of R15.39 to the dollar. Although Zuma agreed three days later to replace Van Rooyen with former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, the rand continued to slide, reaching a new low of R17.99 to the dollar in mid-January 2016.