South Africa is now the rand's worst enemy

The rand skated within a hair's breadth of the psychologically "significant" mark of R9 to the dollar again on Tuesday, following global market unease over a nuclear test by North Korea, Reuters reported.

Although the currency has often been seen as a proxy for global risk appetite, local economic conditions and political events are beginning to weigh on its performance. The Economist noted last week that, despite relatively improved global investor sentiment, the rand had continued to perform poorly — thanks largely to ratings downgrades, labour unrest and slow economic growth.

In its economic outlook for 2013, Nedbank said the rand was likely to remain vulnerable because of "domestic concerns rather than global risk appetites". 

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