Ratings firm S&P Global has downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk status, following the axing of former finance minister, Pravin Gordhan.

The downgrade comes after the country’s credit status being on the edge for an incredibly long time, following years of slow decline during the Zuma presidency.

The rand dropped on the announcement, moving from levels around R13.51 in late afternoon trade, to R13.66 when S&P delivered its news.

S&P downgraded South Africa’s foreign currency rating to BB+ – officially sub-investment grade – while local currency debt has been downgraded to BBB- (one notch above junk).

Both ratings carry a negative outlook, meaning more downgrades may lie ahead.

The ratings agency said that in its opinion, the executive changes initiated by President Zuma have put fiscal and growth outcomes at risk.

“We assess that contingent liabilities to the state are rising,” S&P Global said.

“The negative outlook reflects our view that political risks will remain elevated this year, and that policy shifts are likely, which could undermine fiscal and economic growth outcomes more than we currently project.