South Africa: Zuma faces stiff challenge as Speaker allows secret ballot in no-confidence vote

Jacob Zuma
South Africa President, Jacob Zuma. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

The Speaker of South Africa’s parliament ruled on Monday that a motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma brought by opposition parties will be held through a secret ballot.

Baleka Mbete, who is also the national chairperson of the ruling African National Congress, ANC, made the remarks in a news conference, saying her decision was “to ensure the outcome of this very important vote is credible”.

A no-confidence motion is scheduled to be debated on Tuesday and requires the backing of a majority of 400 lawmakers to pass.

The decision could embolden members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to vote against Mr. Zuma and puts him in a precarious position as he struggles to fend off opposition accusations of corruption and mismanaging the economy.

If the motion succeeds, Mr. Zuma, in power since 2009, and his entire cabinet would have to step down. The rand extended its gains, bonds firmed and banking shares advanced after her announcement.

She said that her decision was “to ensure the outcome of this very important vote is credible”.

In a new development, South African opposition party Democratic Alliance, DA, also urged ruling party lawmakers to vote Zuma out after parliamentary speaker allowed a secret ballot on a no-confidence vote.

Mr. Zuma’s critics wanted the no confidence vote to be anonymous, hoping it will embolden ANC lawmakers to support his removal by shielding them from pressure from other party members.

“(African National Congress) MPs now have no excuse,” DA leader Musi Maimane said.

South Africa’s top court had ruled on June 22 that the speaker of the parliament can order a secret ballot for no-confidence motions, an outcome the opposition hopes would embolden ANC MPs to rebel and depose scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma.

However, Chief Justice Mogoeng stopped short of ordering a secret ballot, saying it would be a violation of the separation of powers between the Constitutional Court and parliament.

Mr. Zuma, had survived four no-confidence votes during his eight years in power thanks to loyal voting by African National Congress, ANC, lawmakers, who form a strong parliamentary majority.

Opposition parties believe a recent cabinet reshuffle that led to the dismissal of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan and a slew of credit rating downgrades may have angered ANC MPs sufficiently to desert Mr. Zuma.

(Reuters/NAN)


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