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South Africa GDP growth slows further to 0.2 percent


 South African President, Jacob Zuma / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH

South African President, Jacob Zuma / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH

South Africa’s economic growth slowed in the third quarter to 0.2 percent, figures showed Tuesday, highlighting the risk of a damaging credit rating downgrade next year.

The country was granted a reprieve in recent weeks when rating agencies did not drop it into “junk” investment category, but they warned of the impact of poor growth.

“The agriculture industry posted its seventh consecutive quarter of economic decline, on the back of one of the worst droughts in recent history,” Statistics South Africa said in a statement.

It added that manufacturing and trade had also contracted, contributing to the reduced 0.2 percent annualised growth rate, which was slightly below expectations.

Standard & Poor’s rating agency on Friday maintained South Africa’s foreign currency debt status one notch above junk status, and kept its negative outlook.

Rumbling political frictions erupted again last week when President Jacob Zuma beat back an attempt by at least four ministers to oust him from power.

The rebellion was the most serious threat to the president since he took office in 2009.

Zuma has been engulfed by graft scandals, while South Africa’s economic growth has fallen and unemployment hit a 13-year high.

Efforts to avoid junk status have been at the centre of wrangling for months, with Zuma at loggerheads with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a reformist widely respected among international investors.

Growth in the second quarter was revised upwards to 3.5 percent.

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