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South Africa's economy falls into recession

South Africa's economy - one of Africa's biggest - has fallen into recession.

The government's statistics agency said on Tuesday that a 0.7% decline in GDP in the first quarter of this year followed a 0.3% contraction in the last quarter of 2016.

That meets the definition of a recession as two or more quarters of negative growth.

Statistics South Africa said trade fell by 5.9% and manufacturing declined 3.7% in the first quarter of 2017, while agriculture and mining posted growth.

South Africa's unemployment rate is at 27.7%, according to official figures.

Scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma have had financial fallout. This year, Fitch and Standard & Poor's lowered South Africa's credit rating to below investment grade after Mr Zuma fired a widely respected finance minister.

Calls for Mr Zuma to resign have increased within the ruling African National Congress party, fuelling uncertainty about the country's leadership.

Citing leaked emails, South African media have reported on the alleged influence of the Gupta family, Indian immigrant businessmen with close ties to Mr Zuma who have been accused of trying to manipulate the government for financial gain.

"It is a toxic combination of policy uncertainty and grand corruption which has led us to this point," Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance party, said after the recession was announced.

AP

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