World

South African assembly to vote on president by secret ballot

South Africa's parliament will vote by secret ballot on a motion of no confidence on South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday, the legislative body's speaker announced Monday.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said at a press conference in Cape Town Monday that the vote, which could bring an end to Zuma's presidency, is to show that parliament is responsive to South Africa's people.

Opposition parties have lobbied for months for an anonymous vote in the no-confidence vote to provide cover to disgruntled members of Zuma's African National Congress who may fear voting against their leader in an open ballot.

The motion, which was tabled by the opposition Democratic Alliance, needs 201 legislators out of 400 to succeed.

"The people of South Africa look to parliament to give direction in challenging times. The people of South Africa also look to parliament for signals of hope," Mbete, a long-time Zuma ally, said before announcing her decision. "We have to use this opportunity to show responsiveness to our people."

In June, the nation's highest court said it was up to the speaker of parliament to decide whether the vote could be done by secret ballot or not.

Zuma, dogged by corruption scandals and waning popularity has faced public calls for his resignation by leading members of his own party, the African National Congress. However the ANC has instructed its lawmakers to vote against the motion, intending to use its parliamentary majority to back Zuma, as it has in earlier attempts to unseat him.

"Voting in favor of this motion will be tantamount to throwing a nuclear bomb at our country," an Aug. 4 statement from the office of ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu said.

In recent weeks, two ANC lawmakers who publicly said they intended to vote against Zuma on Tuesday were quickly censured by the party. Zuma has survived several no confidence votes since becoming president in 2009.