South African President Jacob Zuma survived a bid by some members of the African National Congress’s top leadership to order his removal from office, according to two members of the ruling party’s national executive committee.
The committee decided on Sunday not to vote on a no-confidence motion in the president, according to the committee members, who asked not to be named because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Pressure had built on Zuma to quit following his March 31 decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle, a move that sparked public protests and cost the country its investment grade credit rating.
The committee’s decision will probably increase the chances that Zuma, 75, will survive a no-confidence motion called by opposition parties in parliament, whether or not the Constitutional Court orders a secret ballot for the vote. ANC lawmakers occupy 62 percent of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.
“Despite all the pressures on Zuma and his government, his power base remains firmly intact,” Melanie Verwoerd, an independent political analyst and former ruling party lawmaker, said by phone from Cape Town.
Divisions in the party have widened since the ANC suffered its worst-ever electoral result when it lost control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, Pretoria, the capital, in a municipal vote in August. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s a rival to Zuma’s ex-wife to succeed him as party leader in December, said on May 21 that South Africa is threatened with becoming a “mafia state.” Zuma’s presidential term ends in 2019.
The rand pared gains of as much as 1.7 percent against the dollar and was 1.1 percent stronger at 12.7436 per dollar at 10:34 p.m. in Johannesburg on Sunday.
A study by eight leading academics from four of the nation’s top universities released last week found that Zuma and his allies, including members of the Gupta family who are in business with his son, had carried out “a silent coup” that had enabled them to raid state assets and reap billions of rand from government contracts. Zuma and the Guptas have previously denied such allegations.
“Zuma surviving is not a surprise, but it appears to have been close,” said Peter Attard Montalto, an economist at Nomura International Plc in London. “I still see him staying in his post until the first half of 2018.”
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