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FILE PHOTO: South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the launch of a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File photo

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling African National Congress backed President Jacob Zuma after calls for his resignation from various groups after he dismissed a respected finance minister, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.

The rand fell by 1 percent and bonds weakened after Mantashe said the ANC would not be part of a movement to remove Zuma, despite a chorus of criticism by ANC-allied parties and unions, religious groups, civil society and the opposition.

Mantashe said the ANC had accepted the "irretrievable breakdown of the relationship" between Zuma and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan as the reason Gordhan was sacked, a move that deepened a rift within the ruling party.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Larry King)

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