Mcebisi Jonas no longer an ANC MP

Since taking office in 2009, the 74-year-old president has repeatedly denied accusations of corruption, and senior ANC officials have backed him. The rating agency Standard and Poor's downgraded South Africa's sovereign credit rating to junk status.

ANC veterans, who include former high commissioners, ministers and many respected anti-apartheid activists, also told a media briefing in Johannesburg that the ANC should do "the honourable thing and recall the president", especially after the party's integrity commission advised that he should resign.

Previous no-confidence motions in parliament against Zuma have failed as the ANC has a commanding majority there.

Cosatu is the second big ANC ally to call on Zuma to quit after South Africa's Communist Party urged him to go last Friday.

Gordhan's removal triggered unprecedented criticism from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as well as the party's chief whip, its treasurer and several ANC allies.

Parliament must be reconvened immediately, they said, noting "an enormous obligation on our public representatives" to hold the executive arm of government to account.

Mantashe's remarks come amid divisions in the ruling party. He has successfully portrayed himself as a man of the people, loves to sing and dance at public rallies and enjoys wide support from the ANC rank-and-file.

"We want an alliance which is led by the ANC that understands and accepts in practice the leading role of the working class as a primary motive force in the National Democratic Revolution", Cosatu said. "It should thus not be used for the purposes of reporting‚" he said.

On Tuesday, NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane said Zuma would remain at the helm until 2019.

The bishops are concerned about Zuma's decision-making process and his motivation for shuffling the cabinet, said the statement issued by Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, conference president. Jonas had meant to stay on at Parliament but realised after yesterday's briefing from the ANC's national working committee that the party will not allow its MPs to vote with their conscience on April 18.

Opposition is also requesting a no-confidence motion from the National Assembly.

He added that work was under way to woo ANC MPs who would be approached individually, in a collaborative effort along with the opposition parties to sway the vote against Zuma.

Political analysts were not surprised by the ruling party's stance on Wednesday.

  • Leroy Wright