"The time has come for him to resign. We no longer believe in his leadership abilities," Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said of President Jacob Zuma.
Muddy for several months in a series of scandals that divide up his own party, Mr. Zuma is once again under fire from critics since his controversial cabinet reshuffle.
In the night of Thursday to Friday, the appointment of ten ministers and as many deputy ministers deemed close to Mr. Zuma revived the tensions.
After the Cosatu, a group of ANC veterans, very back against Jacob Zuma for several months also publicly called for his resignation on Tuesday afternoon.
A name crystallizes the divide: that of Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance, Zuma's champion of anti-corruption and enemy n ° 1 in the government, disembarked in favor of Malusi Gigaba, a faithful of the president.
According to the head of the Cosatu, this reshuffle was conducted on issues of "political loyalty" and not "merit".
An analysis grid shared by the South African vice-president Cyril Ramaphosa who has already described the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan as "unacceptable".
This sweep was also quickly sanctioned by the markets. On Monday, the sovereign rating of South Africa has been degraded into a speculative category by Standard & Poor's and the South African rand has lost 7% of its value since the redesign against the dollar.
Standard & Poor's has demoted South Africa to BB +, in speculative category, blaming the "political and institutional uncertainty" compounded by the reshuffle.
The Moody's agency that currently ranks South Africa, two notches above the speculative categories (Baa2) has placed the country under "surveillance" for a potential degradation.
"The degradation of ratings has already led to a significant depreciation of the rand and I think this is just the beginning." We should see a rise in inflation and interest rates, "warns Azar Jammine, an economist interviewed by The AFP.
- 'Negligent and imprudent' -
"We recognize that the announcement (from Standard & Poor's) is a setback but it is not the time to be discouraged," said the new holder of the portfolio of finance, Tuesday at a press conference in Pretoria.
"This degradation shows that we must revive the engines of our nation's growth," he said.
"The president has been negligent and imprudent," said the head of the Cosatu, adding that this degradation was going to "cost very dear" to the country.
Undaunted, Jacob Zuma merely declared that he "made changes to give new energy to the government," Tuesday at the opening of a train in Pretoria.
"If leadership has changed, the overall direction of government policy remains the same," he said.
If the pressure on the shoulders of "President Teflon" is strong within his camp, the opposition parties are not left behind.
They called on Monday for joint demonstrations to demand the departure of Jacob Zuma and the organization of a vote of no confidence in the Parliament against the head of state.
The latter has already survived last year several motions of this type, thanks in particular to the comfortable majority of his party in Parliament (249 deputies out of 400).
But with the defection of the Cosatu, a historically of the ANC since taking office with the end of apartheid in 1994, the opposition may dream of succeeding in Parliament.
She only has to "return" 50 parliamentarians to obtain the simple majority necessary for the success of her motion.
"I do not see ANC deputies divide, it would give too much importance to the opposition, even those who do not like Zuma do not want that," nevertheless relativizes AFP the independent analyst Daniel Silke.
The ANC must elect its new president to replace Zuma at the end of the year.
The candidate chosen will be the party figure for the general elections scheduled for 2019 and which will appoint a new head of state.