South Africa's ruling party backs embattled president

South Africa's President Zuma reacts during a rally following the launch of a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg

Despite efforts from the opposition as well as some members from the ANC to have Zuma removed from power, the president seemed likely to soldier on after his party said it would stand behind him on Wednesday.

The opposition parties hope to pass a motion of no confidence in Parliament, but they would need defections from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to succeed.

But Cosatu said it no longer believed in Zuma's ability to lead the party and the country, and that it wanted to restructure its alliance with the ANC.

In his first public remarks about Thursday's midnight reshuffle, Zuma on Tuesday also urged his cabinet to reach out and reassure worldwide investors following the dismissal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. The move lead ratings agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) to downgrade the country's investment status to junk over concerns of political instability in the country.

The sacking in the early hours of Friday has had serious consequences for the country's economy and deepened the rift within the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The trade union centre confirmed that its main complaint was Mr Zuma's failure to consult either the ANC or its alliance partners.

The reshuffle saw Pravin Gordhan and Jonas get fired as finance minister and deputy finance minister respectively, which sent the rand and markets into a tailspin.

The Gordhan affair has threatened to split the ANC, some of whose senior officials reportedly back calls for Zuma to resign.

Mantashe also dismissed calls for ANC MPs to back a vote of no confidence against Zuma.

There needs to be careful consideration of how this crisis can be turned into an opportunity for regaining the legitimacy of public institutions that have been so sullied during the Zuma presidency.

Selfe said Zuma's decision to retain Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini showed his Cabinet reshuffling was not aimed at improving efficiency.

However, more significant is the fact that three of the ANC's top six leaders spoke out publicly against his decision to sack the two finance ministers on the basis of a dubious intelligence report. "The president indicated in November that that was his wish and he was persuaded by us that he should wait a while‚" Duarte said at a media briefing after a special meeting of the national working committee (NWC).

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa chimed in, calling the sacking of Gordhan "totally unacceptable".

Moody's put South Africa's ratings on review for a downgrade on Monday night, just hours after S&P's downgrade was announced.



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