The outcome of a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in less than three weeks will not be easy to predict, with the balance of forces in the ANC tipped considerably against him.
Sources in the ANC told HuffPost that unlike in previous parliamentary votes brought against the head of state – in which Zuma received majority support within his party – his hold on the ANC in Parliament has diminished substantially.
This makes the way in which ANC members of parliament will vote unpredictable.
"There is a balance of forces in the ANC, with those aligned to party president Cyril Ramaphosa and those aligned to Zuma," one ANC MP said. "Zuma's support in the ANC is still strong, and each faction will tell you they are stronger than the other. This motion is different, because now there are two centres of power. If Zuma wins or loses, it won't be by a large margin, either way"
"This will also depend on whether the vote is secret or not. It's hard to tell right now, but what I can say is that more people from within the ANC would be likely to vote against Zuma now than before."
A source in the ANC's national executive committee said the party would've hoped for Zuma's fate not to have been decided in Parliament.
"We are being put in a corner now. The ANC is a proud party, and we deal with our own issues within the party – and the NEC has chosen not to remove Zuma. The Ramaphosa group is scared of more losses in 2019, so Ramaphosa will want ultimate power before that happens. But we will not be told what to do by opposition parties," the source said.
"We will deal with Zuma in our time and in our own way. A successful motion of no confidence against Zuma will not only be disgraceful to him, but for the ANC as well. We will wait for leadership on this matter. A meeting will take place soon."
The issues around Pres Zuma's future have a variety of implications for example if the #MotionOFnoCONFIDENCE goes ahead and succeeds, the implication is that the 2019 elections will have to be brought forward to later this year. Is SA ready for that?— Tim Modise (@TimModise) February 2, 2018
National assembly speaker Baleka Mbete on Friday scheduled a motion of no confidence in the president, to be debated and voted upon on February 22.
This came after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) made separate calls for Zuma to be removed ahead of the next State of the Nation address (Sona). In separate letters to Mbete, the EFF called for an urgent motion of no confidence ahead of the Sona, while the DA wanted the event postponed.
Parliament's spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, asked if the vote against Zuma will be done via secret ballot – because unless Mbete decides otherwise, all voting in the house is open. Mbete has not announced the manner in which the vote will take place.
Parly spokesman tells me #MotionOfNoConfidence will be an open vote unless Baleka Mbete says otherwise. But will it make a difference now that the balance of forces in the ANC shifted considerably since the last attempt?— Amil Umraw (@Amil_Umraw) February 2, 2018
Opposition parties also met on Friday to discuss the way forward regarding Zuma delivering the Sona.
Delivering a joint statement after the meeting, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said all parties resolved that Zuma be removed as head of state.
"The refusal of the ANC to remove Zuma from office is well documented... and indicates it is not committed to the rule of law and the ethics of good governance. The ANC cannot be trusted and cannot be relied upon to bring about the changes promised by its newly elected leadership," Holomisa said.
"We are adamant that Zuma should not deliver the next Sona. Should he deliver the Sona, it will confirm the ANC's inability and unwillingness to do what is right for South Africa... It was agreed that a formal letter be addressed to the presiding officer of Parliament expressing our concerns in allowing the proposed Sona to go ahead on February 8."