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Rand Tumbles After South African President Zuma Survives "No Confidence" Vote

National assembly speaker (and purported replacement) Baleka Mbete's secret no-confidence vote has failed to oust South African President Zuma.

Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete shocked South Africans Monday when she announced her decision to allow the vote to proceed on a secret ballot, which would allow party members to vote against their leader outside the public spotlight.

"I understand and accept that a motion of no confidence in the president is a very important matter, a potent tool toward holding the president to account," she said at a press briefing Monday in Cape Town. She did not take questions from reporters.

 

The no confidence vote, she said, "constitutes one of the severest political consequences imaginable" and her decision to allow the vote to proceed anonymously is "about putting the resilience of our democratic institution to test."

Mbete needed 201 votes (Zuma's ANC dominates the Parliament with 249 out of 400 seats and so for the motion to pass, at least 50 party members would have to defect to the opposition - something that has never happened before in a party that defeated South Africa's apartheid system and is known for its loyalty).

However, some have argued that the number is lower. If the need arises, National Assembly will seek legal opinion on whether majority in no-confidence motion on President Jacob Zuma is based on number of seats in assembly or if vacancies in NA should be subtracted, Speaker Baleka Mbete tells lawmakers in Cape Town.

  • Mbete says simple majority to be calculated as 201, or 50% plus one seat of 400 seats in National Assembly.
  • Democratic Alliance, which is the main opposition party, argues seats should exclude 5 vacancies, which takes total number of seats to 395 and lowers majority needed to pass the motion

South African lawmakers began to cast their votes at 1043am ET (ZAR had leaked very modestly lower into the start of the vote).

Voting finished at 1150ET and the count began (as lawmakers squabbled over constitutional details).

Counting finished at 1235ET. ZAR dropped on the riging on the 5-minute warning bells.

The result:

Motion of no confidence in South African President Jacob Zuma was defeated by 198 votes against 177 supporting it, Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the National Assembly, announces at a sitting in Cape Town.

 

9 of the 384 members in the assembly, where the ANC has a 62% majority, abstained

The reaction is clear... The Rand tumbled...

 

Zuma will now retain his position as ANC president until his tenure ends in December. His term as president of the country runs through 2019.