Launching a public motion of no confidence petition against President Jacob Zuma, Sipho Pityana on Wednesday urged South Africans to save the country from the president whom he said “has broken the bond of trust” through his corrupt government.

Pityana said South Africa cannot sit and wait until 2019 when Zuma’s presidency ends, as the “rot was simply spreading too fast”.

“What kind of leader does Zuma think he is?” asked Pityana.

“On public platforms, at so called Cadre Forums, the president glibly asks the question — save South Africa from whom? Today we say the answer is clear. We save South Africa from you, Mr president…because if we do nothing today, there will be no South Africa to save in 2019,” he said to a loud applause.

Zuma had attacked his detractors calling for him to step down during a series of rallies over the weekend. He told party supporters in KwaZulu-Natal that there were African National Congress members who ignored organisational processes and want to save South Africa.

Taking a jibe at Pityana, Zuma said: “There are comrades that we last saw in 1994, and have since changed.. but all of a sudden they are up in arms.”

“Most of them are not active in their branches, they are nowhere in our structures…and the they say Save South Africa…save it from what?” asked Zuma at the rally.

Pityana is the convener of the Save South Africa campaign initially formed by mostly business leaders, and later supported by NGO’s, academics, church leaders, opposition party leaders and some ANC stalwarts. The campaign wants Zuma to step down as president of the republic ‘to ensure a safe future’ for the country.

Pityana said the petition would be advertised through media and also posted online for signatures and taken to communities for support across the country.

“We urge you South Africans to sign the petition and make your voices heard. It is our intention to gather as many signatures as we can, and formally present the People’s Motion to Parliament in the new year,” said Pityana.

South Africans should urge their local local MPs wherever they are to insist on accountability ‘and to do the right thing’ by supporting the motion to remove Zuma, he said.