South African President Jacob Zuma survived his 8th Vote of No Confidence on Tuesday as 198 parliamentarians voted in his favour against 177 opposing votes. Tuesday’s Vote of No Confidence was the most critical as the secret ballot system was adopted.
The hope of a coalition of opposition parties and some rebel ANC MPs to dislodge him from office failed as they were unable to garner the simple majority of votes in support of the motion.
A total of 384 votes were cast with nine abstentions, indicating that over two dozen ANC parliamentarians turned their backs on the governing party in the attempt to remove Zuma from office.
“Therefore, the motion of no confidence in the president is accordingly negative,” declared Speaker Baleka Mbete who announced the result in Parliament.
Scenes of victory songs and dance by ANC MPs and supporters followed the announcement both within and outside the National Assembly in Cape Town.
President Zuma himself sang and danced with the supporters outside parliament after thanking the people for standing by the governing party.
“If you talk about the party representing the majority of people in this country, it is the African National Congress. They believed they could use the parliament to take over the majority from the ANC. They can’t do it,” Zuma said of the opposition parties.
The no-confidence motion was initiated by the Democratic Alliance (DA), the largest opposition party, in response to a cabinet reshuffle in March, in which Zuma sacked the popular finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance (DA) made scathing remarks about the president earlier during the debate on the motion.
“A corrupt system that keeps our people imprisoned in poverty. If you told me that one day our democratically elected president would end up corrupted and captured by a criminal syndicate, I would have never believed you. But here we are,” Maimane said.
In response, ANC MPs argued that the party remained united behind Zuma, and had set up internal processes to deal with accusations of corruption and poor governance. They, therefore, dismissed the motion as an attempted power grab by the opposition.
“The opposition is using the Constitution so as to collapse government, deter service delivery and sow the seeds of chaos in society so as to ultimately grab power … Shame on you!” said Doris Dlakude, the ANC’s deputy chief whip.
Speaking shortly after the results were announced, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula described ANC parliamentarians who voted against the party as suicide bombers.
“We have defeated the useless motion. We can’t dance to Mmusi Maimane and all the small boys and girls. People who voted with the motion are suicide bombers,” Mbalula declared.
The ANC said in a post-victory statement that the party had reclaimed its position as leader of the society.
“The biggest victor of today’s event is our constitutional dispensation. It once again reaffirms the ANC’s position as the leader of the society in that the country’s MPs are able to exercise this critical constitutional provision aimed at safeguarding our democracy,” the statement read.
Had the motion succeeded, President Zuma and his cabinet would have been compelled to resign immediately with the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete becoming Acting President for a period of 30 days during which the MPs would elect a new president or call for an early general election.
However, opposition arrowheads say the fight to remove Zuma from office is far from over, as they intend to push for his impeachment once more.
“We know that there is an impeachment motion coming and there is an appeal coming on his criminal charges. We are going to mount more pressure and we are going to double our efforts [to remove him from office],” leader of the EFF Julius Malema told the media.