Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president has survived a no-confidence motion on a secret ballot yesterday. It was the sixth such vote of his increasingly beleaguered presidency, but the first involving a secret ballot with a broad coalition of opposition parties and renegade MPs from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) falling just short of the simple majority needed to oust Zuma.
Baleka Mbete, the National Assembly’s speaker, announced the result: 198 MPs voted against, compared with 177 in favour. There were nine abstentions. “Therefore the motion of no confidence in the president is accordingly negative,” declared Mbete.
ANC MPs in parliament celebrated the news by dancing and singing in the parliament.
A cheerful President Zuma arrived at the parliamentary precinct about an hour after the result was announced. “I’ve just come to say thank you to all of you. Those comrades who are in parliament needed the support from the membership. You came in your numbers to demonstrate that the ANC is there, is powerful, is big. It is difficult to defeat the ANC, but you can try,” he said.
A series of coordinated protests across South africa has been demanding Zuma’s removal as president for the scandals and allegations of corruption and particularly his conjunction to the Guptas.
Democratic Alliance (DA), the largest opposition party brought the no-confidence motion, in response to a cabinet reshuffle in March, in which Zuma sacked the popular finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
“I never imagined that one day I would be here in this parliament fighting a new form of oppression,” Maimane, the DA leader said during the debate on the motion. “A corrupt system that keeps our people imprisoned in poverty. If you told me that one day our democratically elected president would end up corrupted and captured by a criminal syndicate, I would have never believed you. But here we are.”
In response, ANC MPs argued that the party remained united behind Zuma, and had set up internal processes to deal with accusations of corruption and poor governance. The no-confidence motion was dismissed repeatedly as an attempted power grab by the opposition.
Although Zuma has survived this battle, he is still fighting for his political future. His term as president expires in 2019 and under the South African constitution he cannot run again.