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Allies abandon South Africa President Jacob Zuma

BBC/Maximilian Kasseh,Jr.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa

South Africa-South Africa's powerful trades union federation, Cosatu, has called for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Its Secretary General, Bheki Ntshalintshali, said he was no longer the "right person" to lead the country.

Anti-apartheid struggle veterans have also called on the African National Congress (ANC) to recall the president.

Mr. Zuma has been under growing pressure following a major cabinet reshuffle which included the sacking of respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

That led to South Africa's credit rating being cut to junk status putting more pressure on a troubled economy.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), a key part of the governing alliance, says it has 1.8 million members.

It forms part of what is called the Tripartite Alliance along with the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The SACP has also called on Mr. Zuma to go.

Cosatu General Secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, told a media briefing that the union's decision was driven by Mr. Zuma's failure to consult it before making changes to his cabinet.

He termed the president's leadership as "inattentive, negligent... and disruptive".

He added that the organization was not concerned about Mr. Gordhan's sacking because he was, like his predecessors, "not a friend of the workers".

"We will support the new minister where necessary and fight with him where necessary," he added.

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

ANC veterans, who include former high commissioners, ministers and many respected anti-apartheid activists, also told a media briefing in Johannesburg that the ANC should do "the honorable thing and recall the president", especially after the party's integrity commission advised that he should resign.


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