South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma easily survived a third no-confidence vote in parliament in less than a year, as politicians from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) ignored opposition calls for his removal from office.
But the ANC’s parliamentary majority delivered a resounding signal of support on Thursday, with 214 MPs voting against the opposition’s motion of no-confidence and 126 backing it. The abstentions totalled 59.
Zuma’s victory was expected, despite Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) opposition party, appealing to ANC members to vote against their leader.
“To put it plainly, we can choose Jacob Zuma, or we can choose South Africa,” Maimane told parliament during a fiery debate.
“Many of you have been speaking out against him in recent weeks … I know that there are men and women in these ANC benches who want to do the right thing.”
But Zuma, 74, who came to power in 2009, retains strong loyalty among ANC politicians and many party members.
“The governing ANC had said it was united heading into this motion of no-confidence in President Zuma, and then in the end it followed through with actions,” Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Cape Town, said.
The no-confidence vote was the third in under a year, with the first two also defeated by wide margins.
The corruption report by the country’s top watchdog raised accusations of possible criminal activity in Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas, a business family accused of wielding undue political influence.
Increasing numbers of anti-apartheid veterans, ANC activists, trade unions, civil groups and business leaders have called for Zuma to resign in recent months.
Zuma’s second term in office ends in 2019 and he is not eligible to run for president again.
But the ANC is due to elect a new party leader at the end of next year, and could then decide to replace him as head of state.
South Africa’s highest court this year found the president guilty of violating the constitution after he refused to repay taxpayers’ money used to refurbish his private rural house n Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal province.
Following the ruling, Zuma paid back more than $500,000 in September.