Union Building, Pretoria South Africa Photo by Paul Saad, via Flickr

August 16, 2017 Sam Valk 1Comment

The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has survived his fourth Vote of No Confidence.

On Wednesday, August 9th, the South African Parliament voted for the fourth time in a motion of no confidence against the president, Jacob Zuma. The vote was declared a “secret ballot,” the first of its kind against Zuma. Many were hoping that Zuma’s majority party, the African National Congress (ANC), would use the opportunity of a secret ballot to oust the scandal ridden president.

However, it was not to be this time. A majority of the 400 member Parliament were needed to oust the president, not counting abstentions. All of the 150 opposition Members of Parliament voted against the president, as well as 27 members of Zuma’s ANC, for a total vote against the president at 177. However, with only 25 members of the ANC abstaining, 198 voted in favor of the president, striking down the vote of no confidence.

Zuma has been in office since 2009 and is finishing his second and final five year term due to term limits. The next election is scheduled for 2019. The leader of the biggest opposition party, Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance (DA), has called for Parliament to be dissolved and elections to be held early. In the local elections of 2016, the DA increased its majority and vote share in the second largest city, Cape Town.

Additionally, they took the mayorships in South Africa’s other two largest cities, Johannesburg and Pretoria/Tshwane, from the ANC. Maimane is banking that he could have his DA lead the ANC through a national election as Zuma continues to lose popularity among the public at large. If the ANC were to lose its lead to any other party, it would be the first time the country would be led by any other party since the first free elections were held in 1994.

“A feeling of malaise has spread over the country and has not subsided since.”

South Africa is a nation that has stagnated. Their unemployment rate has hovered around 25%, double for young South Africans, since 2010. A feeling of malaise has spread over the country and has not subsided since. The country, which was on the rise just after Apartheid ended, has been stagnated for almost a decade. Major state industries are having funding crises, including national airline South African Airways and state electric supplier Eskom.

Much of these issues can be directly or indirectly tied back to Jacob Zuma. In 2014, the Public Protector declared that Zuma embezzled over $23 million in state money for improvements to his personal house in KwaZulu-Natal, Nkandla. Zuma refused to pay, so in 2016 the Constitutional Court ruled that the president had violated the South African Constitution. Though Zuma apologized,much of the public lost faith in the president, which was partially reflected in the results of the elections that August.

The president is not new to this type of vote. Having survived four no confidence votes to date, he appeared fairly confident in his speech on Wednesday after the vote, declaring he would continue to serve out his term. Zuma, however, may not get to finish his term with recent calls for an early election and more scandals looming on the horizon.,. Zuma will have a lot to deal with in the next two years. On top of everything else, he was accused of raping a woman with AIDS in 2006.

The scandal was not from the rape accusation itself, as he was found not guilty of committing the crime, but from  Zuma’s claim he did not get AIDS from the unprotected encounter because he showered afterwards. The aforementioned Nkandla Scandal hit the president harder than any previous scandal, spawning one of the failed motions of no confidence. Additionally, Zuma has been accused of cozying up with one of the wealthiest families in South Africa, the Indian descendent Guptas. Zuma has a very close and personal relationship with the Gupta family, and has been accused of using state money and power to benefit the Gupta family personally.

Today, Zuma continues his reign over the country. The ANC continues to refuse to abandon their president, no matter how many scandals he finds himself in. The country continues to stagnate under his presidency and fall deeper into debt in order to fund the issue-plagued state industries. The 2019 national elections are still nearly two years away, but it seems that Zuma’s corruption will eventually be too much to bear. It is likely that either early elections will be announce or Zuma will lose a future “No Confidence” vote.

If the ANC allows Zuma to continue through 2019, they run the risk of losing a majority in Parliament and will be forced to either form a coalition or simply form no government at all. Thus allowing the minority parties wiggle room in formulating their own coalitions. The party of Nelson Mandela is teetering on the edge of collapse and it is dragging the rest of South Africa with it. This dilemma is clearly emanating from allowing Jacob Zuma to continue his reign.

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  • Hershel Daniels JUnior

    Here is some alternative political facts in the story in that President Zuma’s term as head of ANC ends in December and many in party said now is not time to change when gearing up for upcoming elections.