The rand’s value at every election from 1994 to 2024

South Africa’s currency has weakened against the US dollar with every election since 1994, with this year’s elections having been one of the most volatile for the rand.

In South Africa’s first democratic election, which took place between 26 and 29 April 1994, the rand traded at around R3.53 against the US dollar.

On 30 May 2024, the day after this year’s elections, the rand traded at around R18.70/USD.

In general, the uncertainty surrounding South Africa’s national elections tends to negatively impact the country’s currency. 

However, it is often not the dominant driver of rand strength or weakness, but rather only one force among many. 

Debra Slabber, portfolio specialist director at Morningstar South Africa, collected data showing the rand’s performance during election years going back to 1966. 

She said 2024 is a big year for elections, with more than half of the world’s population heading to the polls.

This has resulted in investor uncertainty, with many waiting for the election outcomes to be known before investing their money. 

In South Africa, this compounds the already significant negative sentiment surrounding the country regarding its economic performance, poor governance, and collapsing service delivery. 

This year’s elections have been one of the most volatile for the currency in democratic South Africa.

This is due to the severe uncertainty that surrounded this year’s elections, as the ruling ANC stood to lose its majority for the first time since it took power in 1994.

The rand saw a 5-week rally due to investor optimism leading up to the elections. However, this optimism gave way to caution on the day of and following the elections, with the rand remaining volatile.

The day after the elections saw the rand slump, but it has picked up since as coalition talks and theories have started.

Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt has previously said the rand could hit R25 to the US dollar in the next two years as South Africa’s poor economic performance will continue and the government pressures the Reserve Bank to loosen monetary policy.

Roodt said while the rand is unlikely to weaken immediately, it will depreciate significantly in the medium to long term. 

“I think in two years, we are going to see the rand at R25 to the dollar. It is not that far off that number already. It only needs to depreciate by around 25% to hit R25 to the dollar,” Roodt said. 

He warned that the rand may weaken further to R30 to the dollar in the next two to three years. 

“So, maybe R25 to the dollar or maybe even R30 to the dollar in two years’ time. The currency will be much weaker.”

Three main forces drive the rand’s depreciation:

  • The country’s vulnerability to external shocks
  • Increased pressure on the Reserve Bank to loosen monetary policy
  • The myriad structural problems in South Africa

The South African economy is highly exposed to external shocks as it is a very open economy, with 68% of its GDP coming from imports and exports. 

This means any deterioration in global economic performance or conditions will likely significantly impact the country’s economy. 

Furthermore, this vulnerability is compounded by the country’s lacklustre economic growth and its poor state finances. 

“We are so vulnerable in terms of finances that we will not be able to withstand any significant external shock,” Roodt said. 

Rand/US dollar exchange rate for every democratic election

Election dateRand value against US dollar on day after election
28 April 1994R3.53
2 June 1999R6.21
14 April 2004R6.58
22 April 2009 R8.91
7 May 2014R10.37
8 May 2019R14.40
29 May 2024R18.70
Source: South African Reserve Bank


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