South African President Jacob Zuma has his back against the ropes as lawmakers gear up to vote in a secret ballot that could oust him from office over a plethora of scandals.
In the biggest test yet of his staying power, Zuma has been derided by the opposition as a “broken and corrupt” leader ahead of the watershed no-confidence vote that could bring to an end the 23-year-reign of the ruling ANC.
“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.”
Despite his all-time low ratings, analysts believe he will survive the scare on account of the party’s large parliamentary majority and his extensive network of loyalists, Independent writes.
A 201-vote majority would be needed to have him removed from office, and the ANC holds 249 seats in the 400-seat parliament.
“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 in reply to Maimane’s attack.
Among the major criticisms of Zuma are corruption, cronyism and a cabinet reshuffle in March when respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan was replaced with a close Zuma ally.
Gordhan’s sacking led to a string of downgrades to South Africa’s credit rating as well as causing the rand currency to tumble, sparking calls for Zuma’s resignation.
Meanwhile, Baleka Mbete, the speaker of parliament, made a surprise decision 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.
But the ANC may not be willing to risk its stability as Zuma, is due to step down as head of the party in December, and as president before the 2019 general election — lessening pressure for drastic measures.