03/04/2017 16:14 SAST | Updated 03/04/2017 16:53 SAST

The ANC is Headed For A Showdown After Gordhan's Sacking

Zuma faces a confrontation with senior members of the ANC following his infamous cabinet reshuffle.

Rogan Ward / Reuters

President Jacob Zuma faces a confrontation with senior members of the ruling African National Congress and the country's currency has plunged after the country's finance minister was sacked, a move that threatens to split the party.

The rand fell about 2 percent to the dollar and government bonds weakened on Monday following President Jacob Zuma's dismissal on Friday of the internationally respected Pravin Gordhan.

The firing drew public criticism from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe and Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize before Monday's regular meetings of the party leadership.

Analysts suggest those meetings could set up a showdown between Zuma and some of the party's leaders. If so, Zuma still has the support of Chairwoman Baleka Mbete and Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, marking a split down the middle among the party's "Top Six" leaders, sources said.

An important signal will be whether the party calls for an early meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC). The committee is the only body that can remove the leader of the party, other than its party congress, which occurs only every five years.

In November, Zuma defeated a no-confidence vote at a meeting of the executive committee, which was called after an anti-graft agency asked for an investigation of alleged influence-peddling by the wealthy Gupta family, whom Zuma has called his friends. Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

Any such meeting by the NEC "is the much more important event for markets to focus on," Nomura analyst Peter Attard Montalto said.