Reuters CAPE TOWN (Reuters) — South African President Jacob Zuma survived an attempt in parliament to force him from office Tuesday, but was left politically wounded after some members of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party voted with the opposition.
The 75-year-old Zuma, in power since 2009, secured 198 votes to the opposition’s 177 in a no-confidence motion held by secret ballot as loyal ANC lawmakers rallied to his support. There were nine abstentions.
ANC lawmakers erupted into singing and dancing in parliament even before the speaker of the house announced the result of the vote in favor of Zuma, whose eight years in office have been dogged by allegations of corruption.
“They are pumping propaganda through the media that the ANC is no longer supported by the people. It is their own imagination,” an exuberant Zuma told a cheering crowd outside parliament in Cape Town after the result was announced.
“The ANC is supported by the overwhelming majority,” he said, before breaking boisterously into song, cracking jokes and telling his supporters that the opposition had been thwarted in an attempted power grab.
Zuma, who has held power in Africa’s most industrialized economy since 2009, has now survived nine no-confidence votes despite a record in office marred by allegations of sleaze and influence-peddling.
He had particularly upset investors by removing finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March, which hit the country’s credit rating. That has been downgraded to junk by two of the top three rating agencies, unemployment is at a 14-year high of 27.7 percent and the economy is back in recession.
Had the vote gone against him on Tuesday, he and his entire Cabinet would have had to step down. The speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete, had earlier ruled that the vote — unlike other no-confidence votes Zuma has faced — should be by secret ballot, a decision the opposition hoped would embolden ANC members unhappy with Zuma to vote against him. The ANC holds 249 seats in the 400-seat parliament and the opposition controls 151, so it required 50 ANC lawmakers backing the opposition to vote Zuma and his Cabinet out.Speech