JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Jacob Zuma ordered Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to return from an investor roadshow to Britain and the United States on Monday because he “did not give permission for the trip”, a government source said.
Appointed in late 2015 after a predecessor’s sudden sacking, Gordhan was in London for the first leg of a week-long non-deal investor roadshow in Britain and the United States.
Weak economic growth and tensions within the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) have put South Africa’s investment grade credit rating at risk.
The rand fell as much as 1.7 percent following the report, while bonds weakened sharply. Banking shares on the Johannesburg bourse fell more than 2 percent.
“They were told last night or this morning to come back… the presidency did not give permission for the trip,” the government source said.
The president’s office could not be reached for comment.
Africa’s most industrialised economy escaped being downgraded to junk status last year. S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings both rank the sovereign one level above junk, while Moody’s puts it two notches higher.
Moody’s, which put South Africa on negative watch in its latest review, is due to revisit that on April 7, followed by S&P at the beginning of June.
Gordhan’s team on the trip to London, Boston and New York included deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and Treasury director general Lungisa Fuzile, as well as business executives and union leaders.