South African business confidence rose to the highest level since before Nhlanhla Nene was fired as finance minister in 2015, the first of many events that hurt prospects and impacted markets in the continent’s most-industrialized economy.
The index measuring business sentiment advanced to 99.7 in January from 96.4 in December, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in an emailed statement Tuesday. That’s the highest level since October 2015.
President Jacob Zuma’s sudden removal of Nene in December 2015 triggered a drop in the rand and bonds. A series of leaked emails last year suggested the Gupta family, who are friends of Zuma and in business with his son, had advance knowledge of Nene’s firing and influenced other cabinet appointments.
Zuma changed his cabinet again in March to get replace Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, a move that led ratings companies to cut the nation’s credit assessment to junk. The ruling African National Congress elected Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over from Zuma as its leader in December and he may replace him as the country’s president before his term ends next year.
“There is the expectation that new leadership will lead to more pragmatic and predictable business and economic policy options,” the chamber said.
Amaka E. Nliam