Wed, Aug 09, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Opposition lashes Zuma ahead of vote to oust him

AFP, CAPE TOWN

Opposition party members show signs mocking South African President Jacob Zuma during a march to support a motion of no confidence against the president ahead of the parliamentary vote yesterday in Cape Town.

Photo: AFP

Opposition lawmakers yesterday derided South African President Jacob Zuma as a “broken and corrupt” leader, as the parliament prepared to vote in a secret ballot that could oust him from office after years of scandals.

Zuma faced a no-confidence vote in the parliament later yesterday in a severe test of the unity of the African National Congress (ANC) party that has ruled since the end of apartheid rule in 1994.

“Since the dawn of our democracy, the stakes have never been higher,” Mmusi Maimane, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, told lawmakers.

“Our choice is between right and wrong, between good and evil. Vote with your conscience, and remove this corrupt and broken president from office,” he said.

Criticism of Zuma from within the ANC has grown amid multiple corruption scandals and mounting economic woes, and the celebrated party of former South African president Nelson Mandela has declined sharply at the polls.

However, senior ANC leaders and most analysts believed the president would survive the vote given the party’s large parliamentary majority.

“We are not sell-outs... We will vote for the ANC. The ANC rejects this motion with the contempt it deserves,” deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said.

Several opposition parties led thousands of anti-Zuma protesters outside parliament, while supporters of the president held a rival march.

Zuma, who has built up a network of loyalists in the ANC since coming to power in 2009, has survived several previous parliamentary votes that were held without secret balloting.

A 201-vote majority would be needed to remove him from power, and the ANC holds 249 seats in the 400-seat parliament. His Cabinet would also be forced to resign.

South African Speaker of the Parliament Baleka Mbete made a surprise decision on Monday to hold the ballot in secret after a campaign by the opposition who hope to encourage ANC members to vote against their leader without fear of intimidation.

“Mbete’s decision was made knowing that Zuma will be secure,” said Darias Jonker, of the New York-based Eurasia political analysis consultancy.

“The vast majority of ANC MPs are not willing to risk the stability of the party in order to remove Zuma in this fashion,” Jonker said.

Zuma, 75, is due to step down as head of the ANC in December, and as president before the 2019 general election — lessening pressure for his party to trigger imminent change.

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