Mbeki wants Zuma to explain reshuffle
As well as the critical deputy President, the ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said he was "very uncomfortable" with how the reshuffle was conducted, suggesting Mr Zuma had sacked competent ministers while retaining those who "do not perform".
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the country's treasury, where Gordhan told reporters it "sickens me" that he had been accused of holding secret meetings seeking to undermine the government.
Mr Gordhan was recalled from trade talks in London this week, on the pretence that he and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas were plotting with United Kingdom banks against the interests of the South African economy.
Another ANC veteran, former cabinet minister Barbara Hogan, said Mr. Zuma has become a "rogue" president and the ANC is beginning to distance itself from him.
The media in South Africa reported that the move pushed the rand more than 3% weaker while yields on South Africa's dollar-denominated sovereign debt rose as fears surfaced again of a sovereign credit rating downgrade on South African bonds.
"Previous statements from the ratings agencies had stressed the importance of maintaining the "current team" at the treasury, so South Africa will probably now lose its investment-grade rating", said analysts at Capital Economics in a note.
The South African rand was one of the top three emerging market currencies a year ago and in early 2017, enjoying a 12.6 percent surge against the greenback in 2016 outpaced only by Brazil's real and Russia's ruble.
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Deputy Ramaphosa took a defiant stance and was quoted by ENCA as calling it "unacceptable" particularly since it seemed to be largely based on an intelligence report that, according to the EFF, contained no intelligence. Already Zuma has foreshadowed land seizures from whites, raising fears that South Africa could follow Zimbabwe's path to economic ruin, which followed the seizures of white farms. Ultimately, though, this is being seen as a political issue with the president rewarding loyalists.
On Wednesday, Gordhan inspired a standing ovation at the funeral of one of South Africa's leading anti-apartheid activists as longtime leaders of the ruling African National Congress, the country's former liberation movement, called for Zuma to step down.
Gordhan has also challenged the growing influence of the Guptas, powerful and wealthy Indian immigrants who are close to Zuma and who use this link to seek lucrative government contracts.
"If all those who are in the ANC and opposition act in the best interest of the country, Zuma is gone", said Economic Freedom Fighters commander-in-chief Julius Malema on Friday. "He has strengthened himself, he has actually sent a message, even to the branches of the ANC, that he is still firmly in charge and that they shouldn't listen to anyone else but they should look his direction for leadership".
Zuma's decision is facing strong criticism from both ruling party members and the opposition.
Zuma brought him back after sacking two other finance ministers in December 2015, a period of turmoil that hammered South Africa's markets and currency.
Gordhan's replacement Gigaba is a Zuma-ally who was criticised for extreme tightening of immigration rules while minister of home affairs.
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