President Jacob Zuma has survived yet another motion of no confidence against his leadership – the eighth such motion he has faced in his presidency since 2010.
While the result was not entirely unexpected, what set the latest vote apart from those that came before was the fact it was done through secret ballot, which significantly changed the voting pattern seen in previous bids.
The rand gave up 1.3% to trade at R13.39 by 19h30 on Tuesday.
In previous votes, the ANC easily shot down any attempt to vote Zuma out by using its majority to defeat the motion. In past motions, opposition parties were never able to secure more than 126 votes in favour – while the ANC never dipped below 211 votes against.
The highest number of abstentions – often used by MPs to show disapproval without supporting the opposition – was recorded in March 2016, amid the breaking Gupta scandal, where 22 MPs decided to opt out of voting.
With a secret ballot, these numbers were not shaken up. The opposition was able to secure 177 for the motion, versus 198 against, out of a total of 384 votes.
Despite the motion failing, analysts and commentators believe the ANC has been left in a much weaker position, with the numbers showing the widening gap among MPs in the party, while strengthening opposition parties’ position heading toward the 2019 election.
Here are all the motions of no confidence brought to the National Assembly against president Jacob Zuma and his selected leadership, and how the voting went.
Motion of no confidence / Impeachment history
|Date||Yes||No||Abstain||Did not vote|
* Motion was switched to motion of confidence
March 2010 – Zuma is unfit to hold office
The March 2010 motion of no confidence against Zuma was brought by the freshly formed Congress of the People (COPE), saying that the president had failed to uphold his office.
The motion was predominantly centred around a number of charges Zuma faced in the years prior, with his AIDS scandal and business interests highlighted. COPE argued that Zuma was unfit to hold office.
In response to the motion, the ANC put in a proposal that the motion of no confidence be switched and turned into a motion of confidence in Zuma, which the speaker allowed.
The motion – which was now to express confidence in Zuma – passed with 235 votes yes, and only 88 votes no.
December 2012 – Zuma failed to appear in Parliament to answer questions
The DA attempted to push through a motion of no confidence in Zuma once again, trying to get a vote on the matter before 7 December 2012 – just before the ANC’s elective conference.
The motion was ultimately withdrawn. The ANC accused the DA of trying to destabilise the party ahead of its conference, where the presidency of the ANC was to be decided.
Zuma went on to be re-elected as president of the ANC, securing his second term as president of the country in 2014.
September 2014 – Speaker Baleka Mbete is biased
In a slight switch up, the DA tabled a motion of no confidence in National Assembly speaker and ANC ‘top six’ member, Baleka Mbete, saying that she could not stop being biased against opposition parties in Parliament.
When the ANC again tried to switch the motion to a motion of confidence in Mbete, all opposition parties walked out of Parliament in protest, with DA leader Mmusi Maimane saying “they can do what they want”.
The ANC changed its mind and – having enough of a majority to proceed with the vote – voted unanimously to shoot down the motion of no confidence with 234 votes no, unopposed.
March 2015 – Zuma’s Nkandla saga and the Constitution
Follow a damning Constitutional Court ruling that president Jacob Zuma unduly benefited from security upgrades done to his Nkandla home, and that he failed to act within his constitutional responsiblities in upholding the Public Protector’s report into the matter, the DA tabled another motion of no confidence in the president.
The ANC argued that the president had acted in good faith – being genuinely misinformed about the processes to follow – and had made the necessary changes by apologising to the nation and agreeing to pay back a reasonable portion of the money,
The motion failed to pass, with the ANC using its majority to push 211 votes no, versus the opposition’s 100 votes yes.
September 2015 – Zuma allowed Al Bashir to escape
After allowing Sudanese president Search Results Omar al-Bashir to leave the country while still being required by the International Crimes Court to hand him over, the Democratic Alliance tried to impeach Zuma under Section 89(1) of the Constitution.
Impeachment requires a two-thirds majority (compared to a motion of no confidence which requires a simple majority), which was always going to be unrealistic.
The impeachment failed, with the ANC majority again pushing through 211 no votes, versus 100 yes votes.
March 2016 – Zuma killed the economy with NeneGate
Following a turbulent first quarter of 2016, after former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was fired, sending the South African market crashing, the DA sought once again to have National Assembly vote on a motion of no confidence in the president.
Opposition parties ended in a weaker position come voting time, after COPE members were thrown out for not listening to orders from the speaker – while the EFF walked out, saying it would not be part of an illegitimate process (referring to the ANC abusing its majority).
The end result left the DA and a handful of opposition parties to garner 99 votes yes, against an overwhelming 225 ANC majority voting no.
November 2016 – Zuma allowed the state to be captured
The last vote of no confidence in 2016 was brought again by the DA, following the Public Protector report into state capture, which implicated president Zuma and a number of ministers.
The DA, fed up with the constant defence of the president, appealed to ANC MPs to vote for South Africa, not Zuma. The ANC, however, said that the motion was premature, as the state capture saga was yet to be properly investigated, and the Public Protector made no findings against the president.
The vote gained the most opposition votes since 2010, with 126 members voting yes – however it was not enough to break the ANC majority, where 214 members voted no.