President Jacob Zuma
As the historic tripartite alliance crumbles around him, President Jacob Zuma yesterday defended his decision to shake up his Cabinet, saying now was the time for young leaders.

Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle saw the axing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, resulting in South Africa’s fragile credit rating reduced to junk status, prompting calls for his head to roll.

Speaking at the launch of Transnet’s first locally engineered and manufactured train in Pretoria yesterday, the president said he had full confidence in new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

He thanked Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas for their service and smooth transition to Gigaba.

However, he says, it was time for change.

“If we do not enable our young MPs to gain experience now, we may battle in future with leadership and government experience.”

But the ANC’s alliance partners, Cosatu and the SACP, said they no longer believed Zuma was fit for president.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions revealed that Zuma called the federation’s leaders yesterday morning asking for a meeting.

This was shortly before it held a briefing, announcing that Cosatu no longer believes in the president’s leadership abilities.

Cosatu informed the ANC on Monday that it would be calling for Zuma to gooi.

Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini said: “On Tuesday morning, the office of the president - or the president himself - called and said: ‘Can I meet Cosatu?’ It is late as it is. Let that not be confused about the calls Cosatu has made.”

Asked if he believed the president’s call was a little too late, Dlamini replied: “The first inclination to the question is: I wish this call would’ve come last week Thursday (night of the reshuffle), then it would’ve saved the federation this situation that we’re now in.”

The South African Communist Party (SACP) says ANC Members of Parliament should act against Zuma and vote him out.

Deputy General-Secretary Solly Mapaila says: “We can’t be protecting corruption and be protecting irrational decision-making by the president.

“The ANC must raise the motion (of no confidence) itself and not wait for opposition parties.”

The rand slumped by nearly 3% since Monday after rating agency S&P Global cut SA’s credit rating to sub-investment or junk status.

The rand reached R13.74/$ 2.85% lower on the day.

The DA also lodged papers in the Western Cape High Court yesterday, arguing that Zuma’s decision to fire Gordhan was unlawful, unconstitutional and irrational.

The DA wants Zuma to give reasons for axing Gordhan and provide documents to back up his decision.