South Africa law­mak­ers to hold se­cret bal­lot to­day on Zuma

Cape Breton Post - - World -

South Africa’s par­lia­ment will vote by se­cret bal­lot Tues­day on a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence on Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, the leg­isla­tive body’s speaker an­nounced.

Mon­day’s sur­prise an­nounce­ment on the vote, which could end Zuma’s pres­i­dency, was made by Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete at a news con­fer­ence in Cape Town. She said her de­ci­sion shows that par­lia­ment is re­spon­sive to the pub­lic.

“The peo­ple of South Africa look to par­lia­ment to give direction in chal­leng­ing times. The peo­ple of South Africa also look to par­lia­ment for sig­nals of hope,’’ said Mbete, a long­time Zuma ally.

Mo­siuoa Lekota, leader of the op­po­si­tion Congress of the Peo­ple, de­scribed the se­cret bal­lot as “ground­break­ing.’’

“It places the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence squarely on the shoul­ders of the men and women who sit in the Na­tional Assem­bly,’’ Lekota told re­porters.

Scores of anti-Zuma protesters marched through Cape Town to the par­lia­ment build­ing Mon­day. Larger demon­stra­tions, both for and against Zuma, are planned for Tues­day at the par­lia­ment build­ing be­fore the vote.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have lob­bied for months for an anony­mous no-con­fi­dence vote to pro­vide cover to dis­grun­tled mem­bers of Zuma’s African Na­tional Congress who may fear com­ing out against their leader in an open bal­lot.

The mo­tion, which was in­tro­duced by the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Al­liance, needs 201 out of 400 votes to suc­ceed. The ANC holds 246 par­lia­men­tary seats, but sev­eral mem­bers have al­ready in­di­cated pub­licly that they will vote against Zuma.

In June, the na­tion’s high­est court said it was up to the speaker of par­lia­ment to de­cide whether the vote could be done by se­cret bal­lot.

Zuma, dogged by cor­rup­tion scan­dals and wan­ing pop­u­lar­ity, has faced pub­lic calls for his res­ig­na­tion by lead­ing mem­bers of his own party, the African Na­tional Congress. The ANC has told its law­mak­ers to vote against the mo­tion, in­tend­ing to use its par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity to back Zuma, as it has in ear­lier at­tempts to oust him.

“Vot­ing in favour of this mo­tion will be tan­ta­mount to throw­ing a nu­clear bomb at our coun­try,’’ an Aug. 4 state­ment from the of­fice of ANC Chief Whip Jack­son Mthembu said.

In re­cent weeks, two ANC law­mak­ers who pub­licly said they in­tended to vote against Zuma were quickly cen­sured by the party. Zuma has sur­vived six ear­lier no- con­fi­dence votes since be­com­ing pres­i­dent in 2009.

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