President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS

Opposition parties are confident that a significant number of ANC MPs will vote in favour of the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma if the parliamentary vote is done in secret.

Three ANC MPs who spoke to Business Day on condition of anonymity said on Sunday they were prepared to vote in favour of the motion.

The matter is also likely to take centre stage when the ANC national executive committee holds its midyear lekgotla on Thursday, when it will assess the party’s performance.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is still to decide whether the vote on August 8 will be open or by secret ballot.

"I think it’s clear that some of us are prepared to support this motion … but to protect the MPs that go against the party line, this vote should be a secret ballot," said one ANC MP.

For the motion to succeed, at least 50 of the 249 ANC MPs will need to break ranks. The National Assembly has 400 members.

In November 2016‚ the ANC used its majority to quash the DA’s attempt to have Zuma removed from office.

EFF leader Julius Malema told Reuters at the weekend that more than 60 ANC MPs would back the vote against Zuma if the ballot were secret.

"I spoke to more than 60 MPs of the ANC who have committed that if we give them a secret ballot they will deliver. They’ve asked that this thing must be secret," he said.

Congress of the People spokesman Dennis Bloem said: "Our assessment is that the ANC MPs want a secret ballot."

Should Mbete decide to go for an open vote, the opposition parties would come together and decide what action to take, Bloem said.

The EFF has said it has prepared legal papers to interdict Mbete should she refuse to allow a secret ballot.

The DA said it was awaiting Mbete’s decision.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said a secret ballot would "roll out the red carpet for ANC MPs who want to vote and follow their conscience".

A secret vote would test the likes of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, who have all shown their displeasure with Zuma, Holomisa said.

The ANC in Parliament said it remained confident its members would not vote in support of a motion of no confidence in Zuma, regardless of whether such a vote was conducted by secret ballot or not. ANC MPs would meet on the morning before the vote, caucus spokeswoman Nonceba Mhlauli said.

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