Newly-elected ANC President and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa attend the ANC's elective conference in Johannesburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says anyone who acts corruptly must be punished regardless of identity, in a message reflecting national discontent with scandal-tainted President Jacob Zuma and his associates.

Ramaphosa made the remark on Tuesday as Zuma returned from an African Union summit in Ethiopia, where he made his own comments about corruption in Africa. Zuma acknowledged a problem but called it "quite exaggerated" at times and said entities outside the continent encourage African corruption for their own benefit.

President Jacob Zuma attends the ANC elective conference in Johannesburg. Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

Some members of the ruling African National Congress party are pushing for Zuma's early exit and say he shouldn't deliver the state of the nation address when parliament opens in Cape Town on Feb. 8. If Zuma speaks as scheduled, his speech likely would be met with protests.