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South African party rejects calls for Zuma to quit

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Zuma's presidential term will finish in 2019.

The African National Congress acknowledged growing calls for Zuma to step down, admitting to "serious and hard disagreement" over the president's sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan last week.

Mr Ntshalintshali also criticised ratings agency S&P's decision to downgrade South Africa to junk status saying the union views it as political interference.

The ANC acknowledged that its allies, including the SACP and the Cosatu trade union federation, had urged the president to resign, insisting that it would keep engaging with its tripartite alliance partners "on this matter".

But on Wednesday, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said the party still stood behind the president.

Last night the latter warned that protesters intent on taking their calls for Zuma to resign to the party's headquarters in Johannesburg on Friday would be met with force.

The public criticisms were a "mistake" and won't happen again, the ANC said in a statement.

Zuma's critics maintain that his removal of the well-respected Gordhan shows that he is more interested in doing the bidding of his cronies than providing the political stability South Africa's weak economy needs to retain investment and jobs.

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The office of the ANC chief whip's liaison officer, Nonceba Mhlauli, said they were not told the reasons for Jonas's resignations and said she was not in a position to speculate. 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.

"This is a serious weakness and we shall attend to it within renewed vigor", the president said.

When asked why the relationship had broken down, he said it was only the two in the relationship who could answer that.

Zuma said on Tuesday in his first public comments since the reshuffle that people should remain calm.

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has resigned as an ANC MP, the party confirmed on Thursday.

Moody's also said late on Monday that it was placing South Africa on review for downgrade, and that it would assess the likelihood of changes in key areas of financial and macro-economic policymaking following Zuma's cabinet changes.

The decision heightens chances that Zuma will survive an opposition-sponsored vote of no confidence in parliament if the leadership of the National Assembly allows it to go ahead. Similar votes have failed in the past.

Mhlauli said the ANC would begin a formal process to replace Jonas as a member of Parliament.

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