Sup­port­ers ex­ult Zuma as he sur­vives sixth no-con­fi­dence vote

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY KRISTA MAHR

JO­HAN­NES­BURG | South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma again sur­vived a no-con­fi­dence vote in par­lia­ment Tues­day in the most se­ri­ous at­tempt yet to un­seat him af­ter months of grow­ing anger over al­leged cor­rup­tion and a sink­ing econ­omy, while his party that has ruled since the end of apartheid con­tin­ued to frac­ture.

Mr. Zuma had sur­vived six pre­vi­ous at­tempts to dis­lodge him in par­lia­ment, but this was the first held by se­cret bal­lot af­ter par­lia­men­tary speaker Baleka Mbete made the sur­prise de­ci­sion to al­low it. Op­po­si­tion par­ties hoped it would en­cour­age leg­is­la­tors with the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress party to vote, with­out fear of re­tal­i­a­tion, against Mr. Zuma, un­der whose lead­er­ship the econ­omy has slipped into re­ces­sion amid mul­ti­ple scan­dals.

In­stead, ANC mem­bers in the cham­ber be­gan singing shortly be­fore the re­sults were an­nounced, while sup­port­ers out­side started to dance. A ju­bi­lant Mr. Zuma promised the ANC would win the next elec­tion in 2019 “in a big num­ber once again,” and he dis­missed “pro­pa­ganda” that said his party no longer has the peo­ple’s sup­port. Then he broke into song.

“We will never en­dorse or vote in fa­vor of any mo­tion that seeks to crip­ple our coun­try,” the ANC said, call­ing the vote an at­tempt to re­move the party from power.

Of the 384 votes cast, 177 were in fa­vor of the no-con­fi­dence mo­tion and 198 were against, with nine ab­sten­tions. The no­con­fi­dence mo­tion needed 201 votes to suc­ceed.

Dozens of ANC mem­bers ended up sup­port­ing the no­con­fi­dence mo­tion, as the rul­ing party holds 249 of the 400 par­lia­ment seats, five of them cur­rently va­cant. Some party mem­bers de­nounced those who voted against Mr. Zuma as sell­outs, and chief whip Jack­son Mthembu said the party would con­sider dis­ci­plin­ing them.

The main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Al­liance party said af­ter the vote that “the ma­jor­ity of the ANC have cho­sen cor­rup­tion, loot­ing” over the coun­try’s in­ter­ests. Its no-con­fi­dence mo­tion said Mr. Zuma had “lost all sense of ra­tio­nal­ity and sound judg­ment,” harm­ing the coun­try’s poor­est cit­i­zens.

Wide­spread frus­tra­tion over Mr. Zuma has hurt the ANC, the for­mer liberation move­ment that has led South Africa since the end of white mi­nor­ity rule and the first all-race elec­tions in 1994. Some long­time party mem­bers and anti-apartheid ac­tivists have openly called on Mr. Zuma to go.

On Tues­day, for­mer Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki said ANC law­mak­ers must “re­call that they are the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple,” ac­cord­ing to a video posted by a Nairobi-based jour­nal­ist on Twit­ter.

Many pre­dicted the vote would fail, say­ing most mem­bers of the decades-old liberation party would hes­i­tate to make any ma­jor lead­er­ship changes ini­ti­ated by the op­po­si­tion.

“For me, it’s among the big­gest rea­sons for the fail­ure of African liberation move­ments, this mis­placed loy­alty to the end for the sake of hold­ing it to­gether,” said Wil­liam Gumede, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the Jo­han­nes­burg-based Democ­racy Works Foun­da­tion.

Demon­stra­tions both for and against Mr. Zuma, who has led South Africa since 2009, took place in front of the par­lia­ment build­ing in Cape Town be­fore the vote.

“As you can see, thou­sands of peo­ple have reached the end of their tether in terms of what is hap­pen­ing in our beau­ti­ful coun­try, our beau­ti­ful, di­verse coun­try that we should en­joy but we can’t en­joy be­cause mil­lions of our peo­ple are with­out jobs,” said one pro­tester, John­nie Ja­cobs.

While Mr. Zuma’s term con­tin­ues un­til elec­tions in 2019, there have been calls from within the ANC for him to quit ear­lier and al­low the party to build up sup­port be­fore the vote. The party is ex­pected to re­place Mr. Zuma as ANC pres­i­dent at a meet­ing in De­cem­ber.

The rep­u­ta­tion of Mr. Zuma, who spent a decade in prison for his anti-apartheid ac­tiv­i­ties and has been pop­u­lar among some South Africans for his per­sonal warmth and pop­ulist poli­cies, has been tar­nished by al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Mandla Man­dela (cen­ter) grand­son of the late Nel­son Man­dela, cel­e­brates in par­lia­ment on Tues­day in Cape Town, South Africa, af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma again sur­vived a no-con­fi­dence vote. This was the most se­ri­ous at­tempt yet to un­seat Mr. Zuma.

South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma sur­vived a no-con­fi­dence vote. Op­po­si­tion par­ties hoped it would en­cour­age ANC leg­is­la­tors to vote with­out fear of re­tal­i­a­tion against Mr. Zuma.

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