South African president survives non-confidence vote

A motion of non-confidence in South African President Jacob Zuma has failed in parliament after months of growing anger over alleged corruption and a sinking economy.

Secret ballot does not help opposition gambit, Zuma has now survived 9 non-confidence votes

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma addresses supporters in Cape Town after he survived a non-confidence motion in parliament. (Mike Hutchings/Reuter)

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma survived a non-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, with 201 votes necessary for a non-confidence motion to carry.

ANC lawmakers erupted into singing and dancing in parliament even before the Speaker of the House announced the result of the vote in favour 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," said Baleka Mbete, speaker of the 400-member parliament.

South Africa's rand fell by one per cent on the announcement of the outcome.

Pro-Zuma supporters in Cape Town celebrate after the vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma failed on Aug. 8. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

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.

Zuma blast opposition 'propaganda'

Zuma appeared at a rally within the hour of the vote's result, decrying the opposition's tactics and predicting the ANC would win a majority in the next general election. Zuma won't be the leader for that 2019 election, as he is ineligible to seek a third term.

"They are pumping propaganda through the media that the ANC is no longer supported by the people. It is their own imagination," Zuma told a cheering crowd.

"The ANC is supported by the overwhelming majority," he added, before breaking into song and cracking jokes with the crowd.

Mbete had earlier ruled that the vote should — unlike other non-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.

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordon, centre, is shown inside parliament in Cape Town during Tuesday's debate. Jacob Zuma's firing of Gordon further destabilized the country's economy. (Mark Wessels/Associated Press)

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 per cent 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.

Demonstrations both for and against Zuma, who has led South Africa since 2009, took place in front of the parliament building in Cape Town before the much-anticipated vote.

With files from The Associated Press