South Africa's ruling party backs Zuma after calls for him to quit

The party's weekend national executive committee meeting, its most powerful structure, roundly defeated a second motion of no confidence in President Zuma.

Calls from opposition parties and civil society for Zuma to quit have increased after he axed respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March, triggering credit rating downgrades that have hit the chances of economic recovery.

Sources who attended the NEC meeting said as many as 70 people spoke for and against the motion, which policy guru Joel Netshitenzhe tabled.

The ANC said earlier it would hold a media briefing on Monday on the NEC meeting.

A string of ANC allies have also urged Zuma to go; including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the South African Council of Churches (SACC).

He said the inquiry would go beyond the "state capture" allegations and investigate the extent of business influence on the state from 1994.

But, he added, the party would find it "very hard to restore public confidence in itself" at the 2019 polls, because its leaders had opted to put party, rather than state, interests first in not recalling Zuma.

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Some 62% of ANC voters polled by Ipsos disapprove of President Jacob Zuma while only 18% support him‚ suggesting that his continued presidency is exacting a heavy price on the party's electability.

"Regardless of whether a secret ballot is granted or not by the court, ANC deployees as always are expected to vote in line with the decision of the caucus of the ANC", Mantashe said.

It said that it would be foolhardy to deny that campaigning was already going on, but said that nominations for the party's top position would only open in September 2017.

He also reportedly told the party's senior members that he didn't understand why there were calls for him to step down given that his term was ending at the end of the year and he hasn't expressed an intention to seek re-election. But Mantashe said the overwhelming sentiment among NEC members was that the need for unity came first.

Brian Molefe reappointmentOn the controversial reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom chief executive, the NEC called for the decision to be reversed as soon as possible.

A significant number of the NEC's number decided that the recall of the President should not be accepted and therefore, no decision was made.

The poll suggests that Zuma's support is in a tailspin after it showed he had the backing of 54% of ANC voters in December 2016.

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