South African president Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence vote held by the country’s parliament on Tuesday. It was the eight such vote but the first to be conducted through a secret ballot.
The number of votes needed to have ousted the 75-year-old was 201 out of the 400-seat parliament but at the end of the proceedings, Zuma had 198 votes in his favour as against 177 with nine legislators abstaining.
Speaker Mbete: Total votes 384— Parliament of RSA (@ParliamentofRSA) August 8, 2017
Therefore, the Motion of No Confidence in the President is accordingly NEGATIVE.
The decision to hold a secret ballot was announced by the Speaker of the House, Baleka Mbete, on Monday after an earlier court ruling said he had the power to so decide. Opposition parties took the case to court after their calls for secret ballots in the past were turned down.
The ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) which has a parliamentary majority cracked the whip and asked members to vote to keep Zuma as leader. The party’s chief whip described a removal of Zuma as equivalent to throwing a nuclear bomb adding that ANC MPs will have to be bewitched to tow that line.
The Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula is on record to have said all his colleagues who vote against Zuma were like suicide bombers. The party however welcomed the secret ballot decision and reiterated that Zuma was going to survive the vote.
Zuma himself has had cause to mock opposition legislators in the past. He told parliament in June this year that the opposition was trying to get a majority they did not have.
‘‘You are trying to get a majority you do not have, by saying secret ballot, I think it’s unfair, because you are trying to increase a majority you don’t have,’‘ he said.
‘‘I have faced seven kinds of vote of no confidence. You have tried your best but you have failed. Why this time should you do it differently? It’s trying to find a way to see if you can win or not. What has gone wrong? What is the problem?’‘ he asked rhetorically.
He also stated that he was not going to resign and that since the MPs have failed through parliament to remove him, the only viable option was for the ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) to fire him.
The parliament has 400 members with an outright majority of over 240 belonging to the ruling party. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) have 89 seats whiles the militant opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) boasts 25 seats. Ten other parties share the remaining slots.
The opposition parties especially the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had held that ANC members would vote against the president once the vote was anonymously carried out.
Zuma’s replacement is set to be chosen at a party conference in December this year. He will however continue in the post of president till the next presidential elections that take place in 2019.