(Cape Town) – President Jacob Zuma survived a vote of no confidence in him for the eighth time. Voting happened in secret in the National Assembly today after close to three hours of debating the motion on the parliament’s floor. Present Jacob Zuma garnered 198 votes against 177 votes. There were 9 abstentions.
Before the commencement of parliamentary proceedings today, pro and anti-Zuma protestations were held around the country including in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Many high ranking citizens had earlier called for ANC members not to vote according to their party affiliations but according to their conscience in line with the aspirations of many South Africans, albeit not the majority. That call fell on death ears as devout ANC MPs publicly declared their intention to vote according to the wishes of the ANC high-command in Luthuli House. In fact, the ANC headquarters issued a final warning to its Members of Parliament threatening expulsion if any dared vote against President Jacob Zuma.
Even though he survived the vote, it is clear by the numbers that there were defections in support of the motion from the stronghold of the majority African National Congress (ANC), the party the President belongs to.
Notwithstanding the threat of expulsion, a defiant female member of parliament, Dr Makhosi Khoza, openly declared that she would vote according to her conscience and not according to the whim of the ANC stating that the President had lost the moral stamina to drive the affairs of the country. Yesterday, she renewed her commitment to voting against Zuma in a Facebook post stating:
“For seven votes of no confidence I was complicit in propping up a leader who has consistently put his own interests above those of the people whom he supposedly serves. As a ANC member I rationalised my votes believing a united ANC would eventually stand against the leader who has failed us. But that has not happened…..
…Supporting the vote of no confidence is not a vote against the ANC. It is a vote against the kleptocracy President Jacob Zuma has actively developed during his tenure as the leader of the ANC and President of the country. It is a vote against corruption. It is a vote to protect the social security net that is critical to so many of our citizens and it is a vote in defense of our democracy.”
Other ANC stalwarts who openly declared they would support the motion included axed Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan.
Following a long legal battle for a secret vote by members of parliament brought against the speaker of the National Assembly by the United Democratic Movement (UDM), the Constitutional Court ruled that the speaker had the power to order a secret vote. The speaker of the National Assembly earlier claimed that she did not have the power to call for a secret vote, but in a straightforward ruling, the constitutional court ruled
- “It is declared the speaker has the “constitutional power” to prescribe a vote by secret ballot in a motion of no confidence against the president.
- The speaker’s decision in April 2017 that she does not have such power is set aside,
- The UDM’s request that the court order a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence is remitted to the speaker”.
And so, this ruling empowered the speaker to announce the secret ballot voting with opposition members enthusiastic of a successful outcome, yet Zuma survived.