"Go, Zuma go!" the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party, Mmusi Maimane, called out to the crowd.
Melanie Rice has more from Cape Town.
Parliament is set to vote in the coming hours on the motion of no confidence, and if it succeeds, Zuma must resign.
"The ANC welcomes the opportunity to once again use the occasion of the debate on the motion of no confidence to speak to these successes which are daily lived reality for many of our people", he added. "We are here because we have been given a mandate‚" she said. Ten other parties share the remaining slots. "That would be akin to a coup". "The ANC rejects this motion with the contempt it deserves", deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said in reply to Maimane's attack.
"We will give ourselves time to make a proper analysis of what needs to be done in this regard".
"We are deeply disappointed that some of our ANC members allowed themselves to be used by the opposition to fracture and weaken the ANC and destabilise our country". More than a quarter of the country's workers are unemployed.
"This is not a motion against the ANC, it is not a motion to remove the ANC government, it is a motion to remove Mr Jacob Zuma", she said.
Some market watchers argued ahead of the vote that it would fail, noting that Zuma's term as leader of his party, the African National Congress, ends in December 2017, anyway, although his term as president ends in 2019. Opposition parties mobilized tens of thousands of people and anti-Zuma protests around South Africa. "It is hard to defeat the ANC, but you can try", he said.
Its no-confidence motion said Zuma had "lost all sense of rationality and sound judgment", harming the country's poorest citizens.
ANC's Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said the no-confidence motion was an attack against the party. Judging by the number of governing ANC MPs who voted with the opposition, it seems like it's going to be a short-lived celebration. We will vote for the ANC. The ANC has maintained its internal processes, which found former president Thabo Mbeki unfit to rule in 2008, should determine whether Zuma should continue as South Africa's head of state.