CAPE TOWN, President Jacob Zuma has admitted that South Africa’s recent ratings downgrade by two international rating agencies to junk status will stifle his government’s efforts to transform the economy to benefit all South Africans.

Speaking during the tabling of the Presidency’s Budget Vote in Parliament here Wednesday, he, however, promised that the 2017 government expenditure would be within the limits set by the National Treasury. South Africa is experiencing slow growth compounded by downgrades by international rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor.

President Zuma said this development providedclear direction that South Africans would have to pull together to overcome their economic woes. The downgrades, he added, were frustrating the government’s efforts to fully transform the economy to benefit of the poor and the working class.

”The sovereign downgrade of South Africa’s rating to junk makes the process of transforming the economy of South Africa difficult, yet necessary. As we seek to radically transform the economy, we need to be mindful of the structural challenges as the South African economy continues to be driven by consumption, global demand for mineral commodities and a very narrow productive base.”

The President said the government would continue to spur growth by ensuring South Africa remains the best investment destination on the continent. ”Our economy must remain competitive, not to merely prevent ratings downgrades but for the good of the country. We also wish to reiterate that we remain committed to the expenditure ceiling in the 2017 Budget and to stabilize debt levels. We also continue efforts of making our country attractive for investments.”

President Zuma also used the occasion to state that he is not opposed to the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the State of Capture. Former Public Protector (Ombudsman) Thuli Madonsela had instructed the president to set up such a commission to be led by a judge appointed by the Chief Justice.

The President had since taken the matter to the Constitutional Court, arguing that some of the remedial actions directed by the Public Protector are irregular, unlawful and unconstitutional. However, he said he fully supports the inquiry as it would clear the names of all those who are implicated.