Aug. 8 (UPI) — Rocks and burning tires closed major intersections in South Africa’s capital on Tuesday prior to a secret no-confidence vote in President Jacob Zuma by parliament.
Protesters, both for and against the embattled president, caused traffic jams across Johannesburg, authorities said.
Although Zuma’s African National Congress dominates the legislature, holding about 250 of the 400 seats, at least 50 lawmakers have announced their intent to defect.
Zuma has survived at least five parliamentary votes to remove him from office since he assumed the presidency in 2009, but Tuesday’s vote is the first secret ballot vote.
Zuma’s potential downfall has been stoked by a number of things — including exposure of corruption and influence peddling, a surging national unemployment rate of nearly 30 percent, the downgrading of South Africa’s global credit status after the firing of well-respected finance minister Pravin Gordham in March, and leaked emails showing the closeness of Zuma to a family involved in choosing cabinet ministers and officials.
Also at issue is Zuma’s leadership as head of the party. If parliament recalls him on Tuesday, ending a presidency scheduled to run until 2019, he will still remain ANC head until December.
A passage of the motion will force Zuma and his cabinet to resign, in which case ANC national chairperson and Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete would assume the presidency for 30 days.