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"This is no way meant to undermine the prerogative of the President of the Republic of South Africa in reshuffling or making changes to his cabinet, which is derived from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa".

But he says this is to ensure such decisions can be owned, justified and defended by the party's leadership collective.

Gordhan has been a staunch opponent of Zuma, particularly on the issue of the Guptas, a wealthy business family with ties to Zuma that opposition figures have accused of having excessive political influence. "The actions Zuma has against Gordhan is based exclusively on assumptions".

"While there are many outstanding cabinet ministers with integrity and who are performing exceptionally well in their portfolios, however, we need to admit that there are also several serving ministers whose performance is rather unsatisfactory, hence they have attracted severe criticism as public representatives against whom appropriate action would be expected".

Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's finance minister, left, greets former President Nelson Mandela's wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, during the funeral service for Ahmed Kathrada, at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

"It is now a matter of public record that Gordhan was abruptly recalled from an overseas trip this past weekend, where he was leading a top National Treasury (delegation) to avert a sovereign downgrading to junk status and attract much-needed foreign direct investment into our economy".

Mantashe told 702 radio that Zuma was aware that many in the ANC were "unhappy" about the purge, in which Gordhan was replaced by home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.

Gordhan said he would not fight his firing but invoked South Africa's long history of mass mobilization. On Friday, they called for parliament to hold a vote of no confidence.

Blasting South Africa's new Cabinet reshuffle, a popular group founded by a late anti-apartheid hero Friday called on President Jacob Zuma to step down for hurting the nation and its economy.

Gordhan is internationally respected and was re-appointed two years ago after Zuma fired former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

"I did not apply for this job (finance minister)". Deputy president of the country and the party, Cyril Ramaphosa, told reporters he objected to the axing of a "a person who has served our country with such distinction" calling it "unacceptable". "South Africans must not pay for nonsense that happens elsewhere", News 24 quoted Gordhan as saying. He and Jonas delivered a lengthy press conference, surrounded by treasury staff who sang anti-apartheid struggle anthems to the outgoing officials.

In parliament, opposition parties plan to seek a motion of no-confidence against Zuma.

This comes as President Jacob Zuma's decision to reshuffle his Cabinet on Thursday has been widely criticised, even from within the ANC and its alliance partners.

The party that liberated South Africa after decades of white minority oppression is deeply divided over Zuma and facing one of its biggest crises yet.