South Africa's influential Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, has suggested that President Jacob Zuma step aside given the African National Congress's recent travails and that he take up the reins of national power instead.
The king, the traditional head of South Africa's largest ethnic group, lamented that under Mr Zuma's leadership "the country is gone", citing the ruling party's losses in recent local elections. The August vote saw the ANC lose control of the country's capital Pretoria, along with Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth to the opposition Democratic Alliance, a party previously dogged by claims that its senior leadership were "too white".
He denounced the current crop of leaders as "failures" who were "setting a bad example" during an address to Zulu maidens taking part in the annual Reed Dance, which sees them parade bare-breasted before the king.
"As I am talking the capital city of South Africa is governed by whites, which is a sign that the country is gone. The economic base (Johannesburg) has been taken over by whites. If politicians had listened to me the election results would not be like this," he said. "If you fail, step aside and allow us to lead the country. We can lead it very well. Anyway, God gave me powers to lead."
The king became the latest in a line of influential South Africans to speak out against the ruling party, whose senior leadership has said it will take "collective responsibility" for the damaging local election result rather than asking its scandal-hit leader to step down.
On Monday, a group of disaffected ANC members gathered outside the party's headquarters in downtown Johannesburg to call for Mr Zuma's resignation. There, they were involved in scuffles with members of a militant wing of the party that supports the president until the protest was called off amid security concerns.
Last month, a respected former government foreign affairs chief and prominent member of the ANC in the fight against apartheid used the funeral of a party colleague to claim Mr Zuma had "humiliated our organisation and undermined everything that we represent".
The king's comments will particularly sting Mr Zuma, a Zulu and ardent tribalist, who has sought to strengthen the hand of traditional leaders during his time in office.