South African President Jacob Zuma has for the eighth time survived a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
He survived the ballot with 198 MPs voting against the motion compared with 177 in favour. The motion of no confidence, which was introduced and supported by a coalition of opposition members of parliament, failed to garner the necessary support from the African National Congress (ANC) MPs despite being held as a secret ballot.
At least 50 of the ANC’s 249 MPs would have had to vote in favour of removing President Zuma and his entire cabinet from office. However, the motion failed as ANC MPs rallied around their beleaguered leader. The failure of the motion now leaves South Africa in stasis because Zuma is set to step down at the end of the year after serving his allocated two terms, which have been defined by allegations of corruption, including accusations that the president has facilitated ‘state capture’ together with the controversial Gupta family.
Despite the defeat of the motion, some ANC politicians have been openly critical of Zuma as the country has slipped into recession and explosive e-mails allegedly showing the extent of the Gupta family’s control over cabinet minister and state-owned companies continue to be published. The situation has even led to some high-ranking ANC politicians, including former Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa, openly criticising Zuma.
The divisions in the ruling party have weakened the president and the country now faces a lame duck president fighting potential corruption charges in the midst of a recession. Compounding the issue is infighting within the ANC over their next leader. Supporters of Zuma are backing the former African Union chairperson and Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, while the president’s most vocal supporters have mostly thrown their weight behind Ramaphosa.
While the leadership contest will not be resolved before the end of the year, South Africa remains in a mire which cannot easily be escaped, as the recession continues to bite and unemployment continues to rise. The ANC, which has a majority in parliament, will need to work towards reviving the stagnant economy or risk losing the 2019 elections.