President Jacob Zuma refuses to step down

It would need to call a meeting of the party's National Executive Committee to force Mr Zuma to quit.

An "urgent notice" sent to members of the NWC, a 26-member group that oversees the day-to-day operations of the party, scheduled the meeting for 2 Johannesburg.

Mashatile gave the strongest indication yet that the leadership is under pressure, following the National Working Committee [NWC] meeting earlier this week.

"Zuma might want to take his chances with the motion and see how many ANC members will come to vote with the opposition and those that would still vote to support him", Mnguni said. The ANC has the power to recall President Zuma from his duties as president of the country before the SONA address and send a clear signal that it is embarking on a new path - a path of true leadership, in tune with the needs of the people, and committed to good governance and the end of state capture. That flies in the face of media reports that Zuma is determined to stay in power and deliver the Sona, despite pleas from within the party for him to resign immediately.

Zuma's job has been on the line since the December elective conference that saw Ramaphosa beating rival Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and being named as the party's new leader.

Mr Zuma has been deserted by several prominent allies in the ANC since Mr Ramaphosa became leader of what is the only party to govern South Africa since the end of apartheid.

He is due to deliver a speech at the opening of parliament in Cape Town on Thursday.

In recent weeks, calls for Zuma's removal have increased, with opposition parties asking National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to schedule yet another motion of no confidence in Zuma debate.

Zuma has survived several no-confidence votes thanks to his ruling ANC party, which holds the majority in parliament. Although Zuma retains the support of a faction within the ANC, he no longer holds a top post.

  • David Armstrong