President Jacob Zuma

To the observer, businessman Sipho Pityana's dramatic appeal last week to President Zuma might have echoed the drama of Cromwell's historic cry 360 years ago to the English Parliament: "In the name of God, go".

Pityana had intended to tell Zuma to his face that he should get out. "I would have asked him as my leader, I would have begged him, I would have prayed..." he said, the moment spoiled by the president's absence from the funeral service he was addressing.

But he spoke of grotesque, unmitigated chaos in the ANC, of a movement and a state captured, of its balance of forces now favouring corruption, of a new cadre out for personal benefit.

"So the fight for leadership roles is not about giving, it is about proximity to resources for yourself, for your family, for your cronies," he said.

He said Zuma had humiliated the organisation, undermined everything it represented. One who had broken his oath of office was "honourable" no longer: "What it means is that you are untrustworthy."

Was Pityana's audacity the start of momentum against Zuma, a critical factor in ousting another president? It is not possible at this point to declare this – after all, Zuma survived the Nene firing and the whole 9/12 debacle just nine months ago. And several other scrapes that might have toppled a lesser politician.

If Pityana's appeal is to have any impact, it has to embolden key leaders of the ANC to issue similar. Only then will we know whether Pityana's address was a turning point.

The call for an early elective conference is in discussion in the ruling party, and among its allies. As is Pityana's address. This as the battle for control of the Treasury rages on amid mounting fears of steps to neutralise its current boss, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Political battle, a movement in turmoil... neither of which bodes well for South Africa's economic recovery.