Delivering the OR Tambo memorial lecture in East London, the veteran ANC member also urged the resignation of the entire Cabinet, National Assembly, and ANC national executive committee (NEC).
South Africa was in dire need of dramatic political and economic changes, he said. "At the very least we need a new political leadership, changes in our economic policy, urgent changes to our education system, and consensus between all stakeholders on how we revive the rainbow spirit in our nation.
"Our national executive and its failed leader is losing court case after court case. Some of the latest examples are the Constitutional Court judgment that the president failed to uphold the Constitution, the judgment that the nuclear energy program must be summarily halted, and, only last week, that the president should provide reasons for his cabinet changes that proved the direct stimulus for two global rating agencies downgrading us to junk," Phosa said.
Of the three clear constitutional centres of power – the executive, legislature, and judiciary – the only one functioning was the judiciary. "Our executive, under the presidents’ leadership, has long ceased to understand and illustrate that they have a sworn duty to uplift and protect the poorest of the poor. When I use the term executive, or cabinet, I do not exclude a single member, whether he or she is a minister, or deputy minister, or part of the executive presidency."
Phosa said that in a recent speech he used words to the extent that the president had "raped the economy".
"I stand by those words and want to add today: He and all the public representatives and executive appointees must take joint and collective responsibility for not only the destruction of the economy, but also for raping the poor. Let me be clear: Not a single member of cabinet has an excuse for jointly authoring the demise of the economy."
Now, in the ANC elective conference year, some in the presidency and cabinet had belatedly found their voices.
"To those, one single remark: It is not what you say, it is what you do, and have done when all of this was being done, that will define your leadership. The electorate will hold you jointly responsible for the waste of taxpayers' money," he said. "I want to say as little as possible about my party’s [ANC] representatives in Parliament.
"Future generations will look at your pronouncements and decisions and find them to border on the treasonous. Let me add that that same future generations will hail the Derek Hanekoms and Mcebisi Jonas' of this world as heroes. They sacrificed their jobs because of their honesty.
"My proposal to the entire cabinet, the National Assembly, and the ANC NEC would be resign and allow our voters to choose the leaders they want," Phosa said.
The massive disconnect between the comfort of public representatives and the increasingly desolate voters they had to serve had become unbridgeable. The past five years had seen the political decision-makers become the ”haves” and the electorate the “have nots”.
There would be no debate about "judicial overreach" if Zuma, his cabinet, and the National Assembly took their constitutional duties, and responsibility towards the poor, seriously, Phosa said.
"For the president to blame, to utilise the 'they hate me' argument is childish, disingenuous, and in bad taste. It is time to go, Mr 'president'. You have failed the voiceless and the most vulnerable. They will, however, find their voices at the ballot box.
"We are clearly at a juncture in our young liberation where we need leaders who understand that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, as well as that the poor, and not our and our friends’ already swollen pockets, should be our focus," Phosa said.