Zuma survives ouster bid but faces vote of no confidence
What you need to know:
- Three members of Zuma Cabinet had called on him to step down.
- African National Congress on Tuesday announced they were backing Mr Zuma to stay on as President.
- The Economic Freedom Fighters had lodged an urgent application for a vote of no confidence against Mr Zuma.
- Zuma has been under renewed pressure since a corruption probe earlier this month unearthed fresh allegations of misconduct.
Exactly a day after ducking a recall by the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma faces another vote of no confidence in Parliament.
The ANC held a three-day high level meeting in Pretoria where Mr Zuma’s future was discussed. Three members of his Cabinet had called on him to step down.
However, the ANC on Tuesday announced they were backing Mr Zuma to stay on as President.
ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe said: “The NEC did not support the call for the President to step down.”
While the ANC was announcing its intentions to keep Mr Zuma in power, the National Assembly confirmed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had lodged an urgent application for a vote of no confidence against Mr Zuma.
The EFF applied to have the vote included on the order paper for Tuesday’s sitting.
Just a fortnight ago, the embattled South African leader had to shrug off a similar motion in Parliament.
FAILED TO TAKE ACTION
The Democratic Alliance (DA) had launched the motion following the release of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report which revealed how the Gupta family played a key role in Cabinet appointments, made under-handed deals to pursue business interests and how the president failed to take action. While the NEC can remove Mr Zuma as President of the country, it is unable to recall him as President of the party.
In 2008 when Thabo Mbeki was recalled as President of the country, he had already lost the leadership of the party at the Polokwane conference the year prior, making his recall easier for the ANC.
Zuma’s backers have called the bid to remove him a “coup”.
Mr Zuma has been weakened by a series of scandals but the manoeuvre to oust him took many by surprise in the African National Congress, which has held power since 1994.
Local media said the meeting was tense, with tempers flaring and some ministers threatening to resign if Zuma stayed.
But the president headed off the most serious threat to his hold on power since he came to office in 2009. He left South Africa early on Tuesday to attend the funeral of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
“The president told us that he will never step down, as it would be like handing himself over to the enemy, and that there are people who want to see him in jail,” an unnamed source at the closed-door meeting told the News24 website.
Zuma has been under renewed pressure since a corruption probe earlier this month unearthed fresh allegations of misconduct.
The probe by the country’s top watchdog uncovered evidence of possible criminal activity in his relationship with the Guptas, a business family accused of wielding undue political influence.
However Zuma, 74, retains strong loyalty among many rank-and-file ANC party members, as well as its lawmakers.
He easily survived a vote of no confidence in parliament on November 10.
“Zuma will only leave when the patronage faction around him decide it is time. I think that is still true,” Peter Montalto, analyst from Nomura bank, said in a briefing note.
“The ANC may well be tired of Zuma but it’s not clear it is ready to conclude anything on succession yet.”
Zuma is due to stand down in 2019 after serving the maximum two terms.
Among his possible successors are his ex-wife, African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.
Many of Zuma’s supporters reportedly rushed back by plane to the ANC meeting at a hotel outside Pretoria after missing proceedings to attend a wedding near Cape Town on Saturday.