President Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS/ROGAN WARD
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS/ROGAN WARD

The motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma has failed: the 177 MPs who voted in favour of it were outvoted by 198 against. There were nine abstentions, and five MPs were absent — a source of contention.

The motion required 201 votes to pass, and the ANC’s 249 MPs meant that if all opposition MPs voted in favour, at least 50 ANC MPs would have had to vote with them.

The final tally suggests at least 20 ANC MPs voted against the party line.

The outcome — the more widely expected result — will be a relief to the ANC, which is struggling with deep internal divisions, and Zuma’s unseating would have left the party in chaos.

But it widens the rift in the tripartite alliance, and provides more impetus for the SACP to make good on threats to go it alone.

Zuma’s survival also continues to present the opposition with ammunition, not least because the president is implicated in state caoture allegations, along with presiding over an economy in recession that is shedding jobs, and where business confidence is at rock bottom.

Zuma has survived seven previous attempts to unseat him.

The latest was different, though, not only because the vote was conducted in secret, but because it came at a time when opinion has been turning against Zuma, from within and outside the ANC, as evidence of corruption and state capture mounted.

The motion was filed by the DA in reaction to Zuma’s late-night Cabinet reshuffle earlier this year. Here is a timeline of events since then:

March 30: Zuma reshuffles his cabinet, firing Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and Mcebisi Jonas as deputy finance minister. DA says it will seek motion of no confidence in Zuma

April 3: Standard & Poor’s Global ratings downgrades SA’s foreign currency rating to junk

April 5: Mbete says it is not within her powers to prescribe a secret ballot

April 7: Fitch downgrades SA’s local and foreign currency credit ratings

April 19: UDM approaches ConCourt to seek secret ballot

April 13: Mbete delays debate on motion, set for April 18, until ConCourt rules

May 15: ConCourt hears arguments on secret ballot

June 9: Moody’s downgrades SA to one notch above junk

June 22: ConCourt puts decision on secret ballot in speaker’s hands

August 7: Mbete finally makes her call on the secret ballot, the day before the vote is set down

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