South Africa’s largest trade union and ruling African National Congress (ANC) party ally Cosatu, will meet President Jacob Zuma “as soon as possible” at his request.

Cosatu, along with the South African Communist Party and the ANC, was at the forefront of the effort to dislodge white-minority rule in South Africa that led to non-racial elections in 1994.

Speaking at a press conference, COSATU Secretary General Bheki Ntshalintshali said that Zuma was no longer the “right person” to lead the country.

The African National Congress acknowledged growing calls for Zuma to step down, admitting to “serious and hard disagreement” over the president’s sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan last week. Zuma appointed 10 new ministers and 10 new deputy ministers.

Gordhan’s sacking contributed to a credit ratings downgrade to junk status on Monday by Standard & Poor’s, fuelling calls for Zuma to step down.

Mantashe said the ANC accepted the “irretrievable breakdown of the relationship” between Zuma and Gordhan as sufficient reason for his departure, and has “full confidence in the newly appointed minister of finance”.

He said while he appreciated the importance of the call he had hopedthat Zuma would have called on Thursday afternoon to consult with Cosatu before he announced his Cabinet reshuffle.

Opposition parties, together with some in his own governing alliance, are planning mass action through public protests and are still demanding for him to resign.

“We will support the new minister where necessary and fight with him where necessary”, he added.

“The list was given to us‚ we did not discuss it [and] that’s why we raised the issue of lack of consultation on that matter‚” he said.

Half of the ANC’s top six group of officials including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Secretary General Gwede Mantashe have publicly criticised Gordhan’s sacking.

Mantashe noted the “unprecedented development” of ANC officials speaking out, adding that they had given the NWC a “candid report about their serious and hard disagreement”.

He reiterated the party’s national working committee (NWC) statement on Wednesday that the ANC would not support the motion, set to be debated in the National Assembly on April 18.

The speaker of parliament is considering recalling a joint sitting for a vote of no confidence put forward by the Democratic Alliance.