Zuma had survived a heated National Executive Committee meeting that lasted late into the night.
Zuma had survived a heated National Executive Committee meeting that lasted late into the night.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma defeated a no confidence motion against him at a meeting of top officials of the governing African National Congress (ANC) party on Sunday, local reports said.

Zuma is facing mounting pressure within the ANC, and from opposition parties and civil society since he axed respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March. Gordhan's ouster triggered credit rating downgrades that have undermined recovery in the struggling economy.

Citing two unnamed sources with direct knowledge of the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC), an English-language online news publication, News24, said that Zuma survived the heated NEC meeting that lasted late into the night.

News24 said a source who attended the meeting that started on Friday in the capital Pretoria reported that as many as 70 party officials took part in the debate for and against the motion, and that the president had the support of most speakers.

Local news service Eye Witness News (EWN) said that the president was "hard hitting" in his response, and told detractors that he knew that "they are used by foreign forces."

EWN said 72 participants spoke to the motion with 18 in support and 54 against.

Zuma is scheduled to step down from the helm of the ANC in December. His term as South Africa's head of state runs until 2019.

Growing public discontent

Aside from his troubles within the party, which has seen key ANC allies calling for him to stand down, Zuma is facing growing public discontent over a series of government graft scandals, record unemployment and a sluggish economy.

The crisis has prompted two ratings agencies to downgrade South Africa, and brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets calling for Zuma's ouster.

Zuma has faced growing public anger over a series of government graft scandals. (Reuters file photo)
Zuma has faced growing public anger over a series of government graft scandals. (Reuters file photo)

Links with Gupta family

Zuma's ties to the Gupta family, which is accused of trying to manipulate top government leaders for financial gain, has also stirred public concern.

This weekend, newspapers in South Africa reported on emails allegedly showing the Guptas' control over some Cabinet ministers and state-owned companies, as well as the involvement of Zuma's son Duduzane, an associate of the Guptas.

The Public Protector, an anti-corruption watchdog, published a report in November that alleged Zuma was influenced by the wealthy South African family with business interests ranging from mining to media, in making government appointments.

The Gupta family denies any wrongdoing.

In another scandal, Zuma was forced to reimburse some state money after the Constitutional Court ruled against him last year in a dispute over millions of dollars spent on his private home.

Source: AFP