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Stakes rise in South Africa as court allows secret vote



Fears rife that Zuma may be voted out

By Anthony Opara


The stakes in the yet unfolding political theatre in South have risen one notch higher with South Africa’s highest court ruling that a vote of no-confidence against President Jacob Zuma can be held in secret.

In the judgement delivered by the constitutional court, the judges held that the Speaker of parliament had the right to order such a move. She has previously said she did not have the power.

Before now, opposition parties who have been clamouring that #Zumamustfall had strongly held the view that under a secret ballot, MPs from Mr Zuma’s ANC party, who are silently opposed to him,  would then be emboldened to vote against him.

Under the present public and bloc-voting arrangement, the embattled president has already survived several previous votes of no-confidence.

Zuma has been under constant pressure over everything from corruption allegations to a controversial cabinet reshuffle that saw his widely respected finance minister fired.

Delivering his verdict, Chief Justice Mgoeng Mgoeng said that under South Africa’s separation of powers, it was up to the Speaker of parliament to decide how the vote was conducted.

The speaker, Baleka Mbete, is a top ANC official and had argued that the rules of parliament did not allow for a secret ballot.

A new date for a motion of no-confidence now has to be set.

On top of the confidence votes, President Zuma has lost a number of prominent court cases against him, including one which ended with him being ordered to pay back a portion of state funds used to refurbish his private home in Nkandla.

But it was the reshuffle that proved particularly damaging, with Mr Zuma facing calls from within his own party to resign.

His term ends in 2019 but he is due to stand down as ANC leader later this year, a development which analysts say has all of the potentials of further widening the cracks within the ruling ANC.


South African President, Jacob Zuma


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