South Africa awaits no-con­fi­dence vote

Zuma has fought off 5 sim­i­lar mo­tions in 8 years as pres­i­dent.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - Ki­mon De Greef ©2017 The New York Times

Over his eight in­creas­ingly em­bat­tled years in power, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma of South Africa has fended off five par­lia­men­tary no-con­fi­dence mo­tions that would have forced him from of­fice. He is to face an­other to­day, with a dif­fer­ence: Law­mak­ers will vote anony­mously.

The speaker of Par­lia­ment, Baleka Mbete, an­nounced late Mon­day af­ter­noon that a vote of no con­fi­dence would take place by se­cret bal­lot, fol­low­ing a re­quest from a coali­tion of op­po­si­tion par­ties.

More than 60 of the 249 law­mak­ers from Zuma’s party, the African Na­tional Congress, would have to rebel for the mo­tion to pass — some­thing an­a­lysts still deem un­likely. But he may find it harder to con­tain a bit­ter fac­tional strug­gle within the ANC, which has dom­i­nated South African pol­i­tics since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Zuma has come un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure as ev­i­dence of high-level cor­rup­tion in his ad­min­is­tra­tion has mounted, most re­cently with a trove of leaked emails that ap­peared to ex­pose the ex­tent of links be­tween se­nior ANC of­fi­cials and an in­flu­en­tial fam­ily, the Gup­tas.

The mo­tion re­quires only a sim­ple ma­jor­ity to pass South Africa’s 400-mem­ber Par­lia­ment.

If the mo­tion passed, Zuma and his en­tire Cab­i­net, in­clud­ing deputy min­is­ters, would have to step down, with Mbete be­com­ing in­terim pres­i­dent, though he would re­main pres­i­dent of the ANC.

The party’s chief whip in Par­lia­ment, Jack­son Mthembu, said Fri­day that vot­ing against Zuma would be “tan­ta­mount to throw­ing a nu­clear bomb” at South Africa and that only a “be­witched” party would vote against its own pres­i­dent.

Af­ter Mbete’s rul­ing Mon­day, a na­tional spokes­woman for the ANC, Zizi Kodwa, said on Twit­ter that the party had “full con­fi­dence” that its mem­bers would vote to keep Zuma. And sev­eral small op­po­si­tion par­ties, in­clud­ing the Com­mu­nists, said they would vote against the mea­sure.

Zuma has sur­vived three no-con­fi­dence votes in Par­lia­ment. An­other was amended into a vote of con­fi­dence, and then passed; yet an­other was with­drawn. He has also with­stood an at­tempted im­peach­ment mo­tion, in 2016, and twice de­feated votes chal­leng­ing him as the party’s leader.

Leaked emails re­leased in May, sug­gest­ing col­lu­sion be­tween the Gupta fam­ily — which owns large com­pa­nies in the tech­nol­ogy, me­dia and min­ing sec­tors — and se­nior ANC mem­bers, has built pres­sure on Zuma as South Africa’s econ­omy has slid into re­ces­sion, its first since 2009.

SEAN GALLUP / GETTY IM­AGES

South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma faces a no-con­fi­dence vote to­day. More than 60 of the 249 law­mak­ers in his party have to rebel for the mo­tion to pass.

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