POLITICS
13/02/2018 10:28 SAST | Updated 13/02/2018 10:28 SAST

Vote Of No Confidence: This Is How The Numbers Stack Up

It will now seemingly be up to the ANC's parliamentary caucus to remove President Jacob Zuma.

REUTERS/Mark Wessels/Pool
Voting stations are set up during the motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma in Parliament in Cape Town, August 8, 2017.

President Jacob Zuma is refusing to leave office.

That much is clear given events over the past 10 days, during which Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC's leadership have attempted to convince Zuma to resign. They will now possibly have to force him to vacate his office.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

Indications are that the battleground will now move to Parliament, where Zuma could be removed in terms of two provisions in the Constitution: section 89, which provides for the removal of the president in terms of impeachment; and section 102, which governs a vote of no confidence.

A debate in terms of article 102 has already been scheduled for February 22, and opposition parties have now asked for that date to be brought forward. Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete is considering that request, something that the ANC's parliamentary leadership will surely support.

WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION SAY?

Section 102 is the easiest — but also the messiest — of the options available to the ANC and the opposition. According to article 102(2), a simple majority in the National Assembly is needed to remove the head of state. That means 200 members plus one, therefore 201 yeas, in favour of a motion of no confidence. That's much, much easier than impeachment. But it also means the whole of Cabinet has to resign and that an interim president — the Speaker — is in charge until the National Assembly can elect a new president.

WHAT IS THE STATE OF PLAY IN PARLIAMENT?

The ANC has 249 seats in the National Assembly. It can, therefore, remove Zuma on its own and doesn't need the support of the opposition. But the numbers are tricky. The ANC at any given time always has a number of vacancies. In addition, the party has historically struggled to enforce a three-line whip, meaning the whippery (the caucus leadership) struggles to ensure that all MPs are in the House when a vote is called.

AND THE BALANCE OF POWER IN THE CAUCUS?

The caucus, under the leadership of Jackson Mthembu, the chief whip, has decidedly shifted in favour of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. MPs that HuffPost has been in contact with say Ramaphosa received an overwhelmingly positive reception when he spoke to MPs last Thursday. If Mthembu can whip his charges into line, Zuma will be removed from office. MPs also understand that their future is dependent on their position on the ANC's candidate list. Zuma has no influence there anymore.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE?

Zuma survived the last motion of no confidence in August last year after the intervention of Gwede Mantashe and Jessie Duarte, then ANC secretary-general and deputy secretary-general respectively. They visited the caucus before the debate and implored MPs not to sacrifice the ANC president in a motion brought by the opposition. Numbers vary, but as many as 30 ANC MPs did vote in support of the motion, which was defeated by 198 votes to 177. It was as close a call as they come.

WILL IT BE BY SECRET BALLOT?

The last motion of no confidence was decided by secret ballot. There have been no requests for a repeat this time and the shift of power in the ANC means fewer MPs are fearful of Zuma. ANC MPs will probably cast their votes loudly and proudly.