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South African markets slide as State of the Nation address is canceled

  • By contrast, the South African rand firmed slightly.
  • South Africa's National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced the cancelation of Thursday's address at a press conference in Cape Town.
  • No firm date was given for its rescheduling.
South African President Jacob Zuma speaks in Johannesburg, South Africa, on December 15, 2017, on the eve of the ANC's 54th National Conference.
Wikus de Wet | AFP | Getty Images
South African President Jacob Zuma speaks in Johannesburg, South Africa, on December 15, 2017, on the eve of the ANC's 54th National Conference.

South African markets tanked Tuesday afternoon, with the Johannesburg Top 40 index trading over 2.7 percent lower on the back of news that the country's annual State of the Nation address had been canceled.

By contrast, the South African rand firmed slightly, trading mid-afternoon up 0.4 percent higher against the U.S. dollar.

South Africa's National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced the cancelation of Thursday's address at a press conference in Cape Town, according to local press reports. No firm date was given for its rescheduling.

Speculation had been mounting beforehand as to whether or not embattled President Jacob Zuma would give the speech.

Senior members of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss the president's future.

Zuma faces growing pressures from both within his party and among the South African electorate to resign, given multiple corruption charges made against him. Cyril Ramaphosa, a market-friendly reformist, won the ANC's leadership in mid-December and is widely viewed as a favorite to lead the country after Zuma's departure.

The future of South African leadership depends on negotiation with Zuma, according to Gary van Staden, senior political analyst at South Africa-based analysis firm NKC African Economics.

"We will have a new president sooner or later," he told CNBC via telephone. "We will have a new president when Jacob Zuma has a deal that keeps him out of jail."