In the wake of the death of the late anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada this week, the growing unpopularity of President Zuma and calls for him to step down have mounted.

At the request of Ahmed Kathrada’s family, President Zuma was asked not to attend one of the most important state funerals within recent times. And so he readily complied.

Whilst still mired in allegations of corruption, President Zuma was at the forefront of the hosting the country’s mourning over the man that was Madiba. And whilst Kathrada holds a slightly lesser rank in the historical annals of the fight against apartheid than Mandela; the move to sideline Zuma is no less a blight on his administration.

The end is nigh

Anyone who is aware of Ahmed’s ongoing political activism until his death would know of his recent anti-Zuma stance amidst the past the past and ongoing political and financial scandal. Last year, Kathrada did not mince his words when writing a letter to Zuma last year to resign.

These words were echoed during the funeral. In what turned quite hastily into a pep rally, former South African President Kgalema Motlanth said Kathrada was "deeply disturbed by the current post-apartheid failure of politics". And that “ he found current leadership wanting on many fronts…”

That the old guard of the ANC and many within the party discredit Zuma at such an illustrious and monumental event is not one for which history will take light note.But neither is it to say that the ANC’s own sheet is blank white clean.

Opposition Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane maintains that the issue is ‘not a Jacob Zuma’ problem, it’s an ‘ANC problem’, “because Zuma is entirely a product of the ANC”.

He is the child of the party that was supposed to bring an era of change to the rainbow nation, but infighting and spells of corruption have slowly eaten away at this.

Sociologist Roger Southall from the University of the Witwatersrand argues the crisis of morality within the ANC can, in fact, be traced back to the 1994 political transition; relating primarily to the party’s need for funding and how the ANC chose 'National Democratic Revolution'.

Popularity at an all time low

There are many polls reflecting these trends.

According to an IPSOS Approval rating poll which surveyed over 3,000 South African adults between October and November 2016, the researchers noted president Zuma’s popularity has decreased substantially over a period of time from 5.7 at the start of his second term, to 4.0. The EFF and DA supporters were found to have more positive views of their own party leaders, who gave them 7.6 and 7.0 respectively.

These statistics can be understood in light of last year’s local municipal elections in early August which many considered to be a wake-up call for the party. The end of racial politics it was termed. But these elections produced no majority winner in many districts which led to hung municipalities and the formation of coalition entities.

At the time, the ANC could be said to be a cliff-hanger, making it just in time to be delivered. But the plot continues to thicken.

On Thursday, firebrand opposition figure Julius Malema from the Economic Freedom Fighters party, applied to the constitutional court to start impeachment proceedings against Zuma. He said outside the court that, “The dark clouds are gathering over Zuma's head......He is the one who is having a key to the door where he is going to exit”. It could be argued that the key is the removal of his finance minister Pravin Gordhan with whom he has been at loggerheads for months.

This move could hurt Zuma greatly, especially now with news that the South Africa rand has plunged by 5% overnight.

Gordhan is supported by several senior ministers, by veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle and many ordinary South Africans.

Last November 2016, Zuma barely escaped an impeachment, recent events suggest that he may not be so lucky in the near future.