South Africa's parliament to debate no-confidence motion against Zuma

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

The March 30 Cabinet shuffle deepened divisions in the African National Congress, which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.

"The time has arrived for him to step down and allow the country to be led forward by a new collective at a government level", Cosatu said in a statement.

The South African government remains committed to a measured fiscal consolidation that stabilizes the rise in public debt, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

The party's National Working Committee (NWC), discussing the cabinet reshuffle, gave the president its backing.

The ANC's decision to endorse Zuma's continued stay in power for another two years was the party's trademark of "arrogance", and it sent a message to citizens that their voices did not matter, Steenhuisen said.

Many analysts believe Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, were removed because of their anti-corruption activities and their refusal to loosen the treasury's purse strings to pay for Zuma's development plans, which they insisted the country could not afford.

South Africa's ruling party gave a boost to the embattled president on Wednesday, saying an opposition effort to force his resignation after he fired the finance minister would fail.

S&P said the cut to below investment grade reflected "heightened political and institutional uncertainties" following the purge of Gordhan and other critical ministers.

The conference's justice and peace commission said there is a "strong impression" in South Africa that Cabinet shuffles "are done in the interest of the president's political survival and his patronage networks, and not in the best interests of the nation".

The sacking has been publicly criticized by half the ANC's "Top Six" officials, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe.

It is understood that the meeting agreed that all top leaders of the party address the divided ANC caucus in a bid to stop any ANC MPs from voting with the opposition in a motion of no confidence against Zuma.

"I want to assure all South Africans that the economy is critical to us the government". It came in the face of widespread criticism of Zuma's cabinet changes that prompted S&P Global Ratings to downgrade the nation's credit rating to junk and weakened the rand.

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