The move will reassure foreign investors in the wake of South African president Jacob Zuma’s inauguration in April. Many feared that Mr Zuma’s election would signal an end to free trade and open markets as Mr Zuma garnered much support from South Africa’s unions and Communist party.

Mr Zuma’s appointment of Trevor Manuel, the well-regarded former finance minister, as head of the national planning commission, has further allayed fears of a swing to the left as Mr Manuel’s is widely viewed as a supporter of free trade.

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South Africa’s telecoms watchdog reversed an earlier decision to wave through the UK mobile giant’s $2.5bn purchase of an additional 15% stake in Vodacom, its 50-50 joint venture with state-controlled Telkom, following a court action to block the deal by the country’s trade union federation.