South Africa's ruling party backs embattled president

And the ANC caucus did not need to be threatened to do this, chief whip Jackson Mthembu said, as they never deviated from the party line.

We live in a democratic society wherein our constitutional rights have enshrined our freedom to protest.

The president is seen as favouring his ex-wife, former African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to succeed him - rather than Ramaphosa.

The announcement comes after Jonas and former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, were unceremoniously dismissed from President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet.

"We can only hope the former deputy minister will have the courage and energy to fight on against "state capture", its shadow finance minister David Maynier said, referring to accusations against the Guptas which they have rejected.

Zuma, 74, has survived four previous no confidence votes.

The committee's official statement on Wednesday acknowledged calls from some ruling party allies, including the South African Communist Party and the country's biggest labor group, for Zuma to resign.

The ANC said they still have confidence in Zuma as the president of the party and country.

Zuma's ruling party, the African National Congress, has an absolute majority in parliament, but the opposition expects numerous ruling MPs to break the party discipline and vote conscientiously.

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Mantashe added there was irretrievable breakdown in communication between Gordhan and Zuma which led to his axing.

"The ANC is not going to go into the next election under Zuma, and I guess there will be some in the ANC who think that if they can just sit it out until the elective conference or until the next election in 2019, then the ANC can hold on electorally under new leadership", he said.

Rating agency S&P Global Ratings cited Gordhan's dismissal as one reason for its downgrade of South Africa to "junk" in an unscheduled review on Monday. Zuma has used his network to sideline opponents to shore up his position, critics who worked with him have said.

"Comrade Jonas has served both as Deputy Minister and MP with absolute distinction and dedication".

Similar votes have failed in the past. If only one of the other two agencies follows suit, big worldwide investors like pension funds will be obliged to dump their South African government debt, and the government will be unable to raise loans overseas.

President Jacob Zuma must be breathing a sigh of relief today following the acceptance of his explanation for his controversial sacking of the finance minister.

In 2008, ruling party leaders withdrew their backing for Zuma's predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, and he quit.

Mantashe denied that Gordhan was sacked exclusively because of an intelligence report that accused him and Jonas of plotting with banks in London to undermine the South African economy, saying it was not the only reason for Gordhan's removal.

  • Adam Floyd