It is the rest of the world sending South Africa a serious message: Get your house in order economically.

Professor Jannie Rossouw 

South Africa's currency, the rand, has touched record levels. It fell to its lowest levels against the dollar in more than seven years.

Consumers have been told they have to limit spending, as the prices of basic foods and household products - especially imported items - will increase. 

Economists warn that things will get harder, especially for the poor. Some also blame President Jacob Zuma's decision to fire the finance minister last year, which made the markets nervous.

They point out that the currency's slide - as well as the increasing cost of basic imports - reflects faltering confidence in how the economy is being managed.

"Here in South Africa we are suffering. We are really suffering. I don't know where this is coming from. People on the top are playing with people's [lives]. We don't know what's going on," Zandile Sambo, a resident, told Al Jazeera.

So what does the weak rand mean for the people? And how will the economic slowdown affect trade with its biggest trading partner, China? 

Counting the Cost looks at the weakening rand and why the jittery currency is posing huge questions about the government's economic direction and putting financial pressure on most South Africans. 

Source: Al Jazeera