A day after his controversial cabinet reshuffle‚ President Jacob Zuma admitted that things were bad in the country.

Speaking during the launch of the Mbizana Rural Development Hub in Bizana in the Eastern Cape on Friday‚ less than 12 hours after his decision to make 20 changes to his cabinet‚ Zuma said: "Konakele konakele ezweni. Sinyathela ngolunye unyawo ngokhu (things are bad in the country. We are moving in another direction).”

But this was his only reference to the reshuffle‚ which saw‚ among other changes‚ finance minister Pravin Gordhan axed.

Zuma also used the occasion to pay a brief tribute to ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada‚ saying his spirit "will always be with us”.

In a brief address – cut short because he was rushing back to Gauteng for the swearing in of the new ministers and deputy ministers - Zuma said it was time that "we controlled the economy"‚ without elaborating.

But on Saturday‚ in Pietermaritzburg‚ he steered away from speaking about the reshuffle‚ instead focusing on the housing project he was there to launch. It was only provincial ANC chairman Sihle Zikalala who used the occasion to say that political leadership was a relay and "if the time has come for you to give the baton you must accept that”.

Zikalala‚ referring to the cabinet reshuffle‚ said there was no leader who would be in their position forever.

ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize‚ who issued a statement on Saturday criticising the way Zuma handled the reshuffle and accusing Number One of operating on his own‚ left before Zuma could speak.

While Zuma's cabinet reshuffle has deeply divided the ANC‚ there were no signs of that in his home province as he was greeted by loud cheers in a packed marquee in Imbali township‚ as the crowd chanted his name.

KwaZulu-Natal transport‚ community safety and liason MEC Mxolisi Kaunda said they supported Zuma's changes as long as they were going to help people get land.