Picture: MASI LOSI
Picture: MASI LOSI

President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday survived another attempt to remove him from power when an opposition-sponsored motion failed to garner enough votes in parliament.

The rand crashed more than 1% to R13.34 against the dollar within minutes of the speaker of the National Assembly announcing the results of the no-confidence vote.

Members of the ANC closed ranks behind the party's president and defeated the motion by 198 votes, against 177. 

More than 20 ANC members of parliament voted against the party's president.

In total 384 votes were cast. All the opposition parties combined have 151 members in the national assembly, against the ANC's 249.

However, the opposition motion garnered the support of 177 members, 16 more than its total representation.

Speaker Balek Mbete said there were nine absentations.   

The ANC enjoys a majority of 50 in the 400-member national assembly.

This was the eighth attempt in parliament to pass a motion of no confidence since Zuma became president in 2009. It was the first conducted by means of a secret ballot, which the opposition had hoped would encourage members of the ruling party critical of Zuma to vote for his removal.

While the debate preceding the vote continued inside the house, thousands of ANC supporters sang and danced outside to demonstrate their support for the president.

They were separated by barbed wire from thousands of opposition supporters and civil society groups who also demonstrated in support of Zuma's removal outside parliament.

In other towns elsewhere, protest marches were organised by opposition parties and civil society organisations demanding Zuma's removal.

Inside parliament, opposition parties deployed mostly party leaders to lead the assault on the president, and cajoled their ANC counterparts to support the motion to vote Zuma out.

The ruling party deployed mainly known Zuma supporters to deflect the assault.

Nathi Nhleko and Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula were the only cabinet members who spoke against the motion during debate time. They are the ministers of Arts and Culture and of defence.

Zuma survived inspite of some members of his own party, including Makhosi Khoza and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and tourism minister Derek Hanekom, having threatened to support the opposition bid to oust him.

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