CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence motion against him in parliament on Tuesday by garnering 198 votes to the opposition’s 177 votes as African National Congress lawmakers rallied to his support.
There were nine abstentions in the secret ballot.
ANC lawmakers erupted into singing and dancing in parliament even before the speaker of the house announced the result of the vote in favor of the 75-year-old Zuma who has been dogged by allegations of corruption during his eight years in office.
“The motion of no-confidence is … negative,” Baleka Mbete, speaker of the 400-member parliament, said.
The rand fell by 1 percent on the announcement of the outcome.
Zuma, who has held power in Africa’s most industrialized economy since 2009 but whose time in office has been marked by allegations of sleaze and influence-peddling, has now survived nine no-confidence votes thanks to loyal backing from lawmakers in his ANC.
Had he lost, he and his entire cabinet would have had to step down.
Mbete had earlier ruled that the vote should – unlike other no-confidence votes Zuma faced – be by secret ballot, a decision the opposition hoped would embolden ANC members who are unhappy with Zuma to vote against him.
Zuma has upset investors, in particular by removing finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March. The country’s credit rating was downgraded to junk by two of the top three rating agencies, unemployment is at a 14-year high of 27.7 percent and the economy is back in recession.
The party, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, is deeply divided and several ANC lawmakers have voiced criticism of the veteran leader.
For a graphic on seats in parliament, click tmsnrt.rs/2hFvn5h
Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Richard Balmforth