Thousands protest in South Africa against President Zouma

But divisions over his conduct are growing within the party, whose moral authority - a legacy of its leading role in the fight against white minority rule- has eroded during his tenure.

Parliament will vote on a motion of no confidence in the president on April 18, though he has easily survived previous such votes against him.

"Our protests in Pretoria‚ Cape Town and Port Elizabeth drew massive crowds‚ and sent a clear message that civil society is sick and exhausted of his misrule‚ and that he must get out of office".

Some thousands of South Africans demonstrated in major cities against Zuma following the dismissal of finance minister Pravin Gordhan which has fuelled concerns over government corruption and a struggling economy.

Not everyone who believes that #ZumaMustFall are supporting the protests, however. His foundation posted a scathing tweet in his name: "We will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us".

Gordhan's sacking provoked a deep fracture in the governmental alliance led by Zuma's African National Congress, as its partners, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, have also called for the president's departure. Police were trying to prevent the ANC supporters from breaching a cordon separating them from backers of the opposition Democratic Alliance party.

Demonstrations are taking place in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, following last month's cabinet reshuffle, in which the president fired nine members of his cabinet including, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

On Nov. 2, Zuma faced his most recent public protest when police fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of demonstrators outside his offices in the capital. Some people with banners lined stretches of road or stood on overpasses; passing cars honked their horns. She wore a South Africa n flag bandana.

Elize Kruger, analyst at NKC Research, said the news was a "blow" to the country's economy, which is already stuck in a "low-growth trap".

Mr Tutu was shown smiling and raising a walking stick, apparently to acknowledge passing protesters.

The retired Anglican archbishop, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his peaceful campaign against apartheid, has criticized the ruling African National Congress for alleged mismanagement over the years. He has been hospitalized several times since 2015 because of infections linked to past treatment for prostate cancer.

He said South Africa will "not allow the Guptas to appoint any more ministers" and said SaveSA is determined to reverse "the coup d'état (cabinet reshuffle) that happened in the middle of the night".

In a separate incident, a small group of pro-Zuma militants attacked a few dozen protesters who had gathered outside the luxurious suburban mansion of the Gupta brothers, business tycoons who have a controversial partnership with Mr. Zuma's son.

Zuma's cabinet overhaul announced last week threatens to split the ANC party, which has been in power since the end of apartheid in 1994.

  • Leroy Wright