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Could a secret vote of no confidence finally unseat Zuma?

  • Video report by ITV News Africa correspondent John Ray

In South Africa’s parliament, the President gave the kind of performance that so riles his enemies.

A chuckle here, a wink there, and everywhere a blanket denial of any culpability in the face of mounting evidence of cronyism and corruption at the heart of government.

It might not be such a laughing matter when the national assembly next meets to consider Jacob Zuma’s future.

Today, the Constitutional Court ruled that a vote of no confidence could – and hinted perhaps should – be held in secret.

Opponents hope that enough rebel African National Congress (ANC) MPs might vote with their conscience, free from the fearful threats made by party managers to try to ensure they tow the line.

Zuma has survived such scrapes in the past and most people think he’ll survive again.

The Constitutional Court ruled that a vote of no confidence could be held in secret

The ANC is due to pick a new leader in December. In theory, Zuma could stay as state president until elections in 2019.

But theory and practice might be different.

The ANC’s general secretary Gwede Mantashe told me last week that once a new leader is in place, the so-called 'Zuma issue' would be easier to deal with.

In other words: They'll fire him.

For some, it may sound a little too clean for the messy realities of South African politics.

In any case, the problems are more profound than the failings of just one man.

The economy is tanking, and the divisions between rich and poor and black and white often seem as deep as ever.

In the end, Zuma’s main failing has been to fall short of the lofty ambitions set by his party for the people it liberated.