PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s prospects of retaining his job are hanging on a knife edge as South African MPs prepare to vote in secret on a motion of no-confidence today.
Although president Zuma has survived several previous votes of no-confidence, analysts believe that a significant number of MPs from the governing African National Congress (ANC) might be ready to pull the carpet from under his feet, under the protection of a secret ballot.
Moreover the vote comes at a time when the ANC support base within the country at large has been crumbling due to continuous allegations of corruption at the top echelons of the ruling party.
The ruling to allow the South African MPs to cast their votes on a secret ballot, was made by the parliament speaker, Baleka Mbete after opposition parties took the case to the Constitutional Court.
Analysts say it would take at least 50 out of the ANC’s 249 MPs to vote against Zuma in order for the no-confidence motion to pass.
If the result goes against Zuma, he would no longer be national president but would remain ANC leader until the party’s congress in December.
The ANC has governed South Africa since the end of white-minority rule in 1994. However, allegations of corruption surrounding president Zuma and his billionaire friends, the Gupta family, has done a lot to tarnish his image.
Public outcry over the Guptas’ influence on Zuma includes allegations that they have a grip on the levers of power in South Africa, including influencing the hiring and firing of ministers.
The Guptas have also appointed Zuma’s son, Duduzane on the boards of some of their companies. They also employed President Zuma’s wife and daughter, and are alleged to have paid for a lavish wedding for Duduzane, as well as a number of extravagant perks, including a palatial flat in Dubai.
Julius Malema the leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters has said the Gupta family’s influence on President Zuma started 2011 when he was still a member of the ANC himself.
“They have bought a country for themselves. They have bought a president who dines with them, who takes instructions from them. He doesn’t even take instructions from his own party, but he takes instructions from that family,” Malema said in a recent interview with the BBC.