Wall Street cheers as Zuma's resignation marks new era for rand

The rand rallied to its highest level since February 2015
President of South Africa Jacob Zuma addresses the nation at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on February 14, 2018. Zuma is addressing the nation after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party instruted him to immediately resign.
By Bloomberg
Thu 15 Feb 2018 10:26 AM

Traders couldn’t be happier to see the end of South African President Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power.

The 75-year-old leader had driven Wall Street to wit’s end in recent years amid ratings downgrades, declining growth and a string of scandals. After surviving multiple attempts by opposition parties to oust him throughout his presidency, he agreed to step down late Wednesday.

The rand rallied to its highest level since February 2015, following weeks of manoeuvres by the ruling African National Congress to remove him from office.

"This is a very big relief," said  Shamaila Khan, director of emerging markets at AllianceBernstein. "Institutions had been deteriorating rapidly."

Zuma’s resignation opens the path for his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, to take the helm of Africa’s most-industrialized economy. Ramaphosa may be sworn in as president on Friday, according to a schedule released by Parliament earlier.

The ANC said it wants a quick transition so Ramaphosa, a 65-year-old lawyer and one of the richest black South Africans, can move to fulfil pledges to revive the struggling economy, clamp down on corruption and rebuild its image ahead of elections scheduled for mid-2019.

South Africa’s five-year credit-default swaps tightened 3.5 basis points on Wednesday to 154 points -- 14 points away from the five-year low reached in January.

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