Growing challenge to South Africa's beleaguered president Jacob Zuma

Members of South Africa's ruling African National Congress will oppose a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma in parliament set for April 18, the party said on Thursday.

Since taking office in 2009, the 74-year-old president has repeatedly denied accusations of corruption, and senior ANC officials have backed him.

Last week, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa called the sacking of Mr Gordhan "totally unacceptable".

Newsmen report that South Africa's largest trade union confederation on Tuesday joined the ranks of Zuma's critics and called on him to step down.

Cosatu, along with the South African Communist Party and the ANC, was at the forefront of the effort to dislodge white-minority rule in South Africa that led to non-racial elections in 1994.

"He reshuffled the cabinet last week without even consulting the ANC itself, and not only alliance partners, on the other positions that were affected and names that were 'decided elsewhere, ' as confirmed by ANC officials in response to his unilateralism", the SACP declared. The move had disastrous consequences for the country's already struggling economy, sending the rand into freefall and causing rating agency Standard and Poor's to downgrade the country's sovereign credit ranking to junk status.

The African National Congress won't vote against Zuma in a no-confidence motion in parliament that the main opposition parties have requested, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told a briefing Wednesday in Johannesburg after a meeting of the ANC's National Working Committee.

The dismissal of Gordhan, seen for some time by pundits as the target of political pressure from a faction allied to Zuma, threatens to split the upper echelons of the ruling ANC.

Mantashe praised new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, saying that he "is going to do a good job".

Mantashe was suggesting that they still don't have all the answers from the president on why he used the so-called fake intelligence report initially as a reason for axing Pravin Gordhan. Zuma responded to the political crisis that erupted after he fired the finance minister, acknowledging that public disputes at the top of the government are a "serious weakness".

The DA is also seeking an emergency session of parliament to handle a no-confidence motion against Zuma and has called for nationwide protests against the president on Friday.

But Zuma, also one of the Top Six, has the support of two other members and influential groups in the ANC, sources said.

"If the relationship has broken down ... you go for a divorce", Mantashe said. "We wish him well", said Mhlauli.

  • Leroy Wright