The ANC has said it will stand behind the president, despite the dire economic consequences of his decision to fire the country's finance minister. The opposition has filed suit against the removal of Pravin Gordhan.
South Africa's largest opposition party sought to bar President Jacob Zuma from sacking popular Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday. The Democratic Alliance (DA) filed a suit against the president in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
Firing Gordhan - himself from the ANC - was "irrational, and therefore unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid," said the DA's request. At the same time, the party was trying to engineer a no-confidence vote against Zuma at an emergency session of parliament.
Amid mounting calls for him to step down over a corruption conviction, Zuma fired the popular finance minister last week and replaced him with the loyal but inexperienced Malusi Gigaba. The move had disastrous consequences for the country's already struggling economy, sending the rand into freefall and causing rating agency Standard and Poor's to downgrade the country's sovereign credit ranking to junk status.
Politicians both within Zuma's African National Congress (ANC) and the DA decried the move as irresponsible in a country where unemployment is already at a staggering 26 percent and growth stagnated to just 0.3 percent last year.
"Zuma's decision is likely to cost yet more jobs and will have a lasting and calamitous impact on ordinary South Africans," the DA said in a statement.
ANC backs Zuma
Despite efforts from the opposition as well as some members from the ANC to have Zuma removed from power, the president seemed likely to soldier on after his party said it would stand behind him on Wednesday.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said that, while the party is "gravely concerned" about some of its leaders calling on Zuma to resign, it would not bow to the whims of the opposition.
"No army allows its soldiers to be commanded by the enemy general," Mantashe said, implying that any decision to unseat him would have to come from within the ANC itself.
es/rc (AP, dpa)