Mcebisi Jonas resigns as ANC MP

Calls have been growing for Zuma to step down since August previous year when the ANC lost control of key metropolitan areas in local elections, partly because of dissatisfaction with the president's performance.

Previous no-confidence motions against Zuma have failed as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has a commanding majority.

Cosatu criticised Zuma's move saying it no longer believed in his ability to lead, and that it wanted to restructure its alliance with the party.

Zuma reshuffled his cabinet last week, axing former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. The parties said they are "united in their call for Zuma to go and our belief in the supremacy of the Constitution".

Zuma was speaking one day after global rating agency Standard & Poor (S&P) lowered the long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating on South Africa to "BB+' from 'BBB-' and the long-term local currency rating to 'BBB-' from 'BBB".

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

Mantashe said the ANC had accepted the "irretrievable breakdown of the relationship" between Zuma and Gordhan as the reason the finance minister was sacked.

Cosatu has endorsed deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as ANC president when Zuma's term comes to an end in December.

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"In our opinion, the executive changes initiated by President Zuma have put at risk fiscal and growth outcomes", S&P said.

Secretary General Bheki Ntshalintshali is calling for South African President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Mr Gordhan had campaigned for budget discipline and against corruption, but Zuma's allies accused him of thwarting the president's desire to enact radical policies to tackle racial inequality.

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

Duarte told the news briefing that Zuma would meet with the party's integrity commission on April 9, but gave no details.

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

Moody's ratings agency too said it was placing its South Africa rating - two notches above "junk" status - on review for a downgrade, due to "the abrupt change in leadership of key government institutions".

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