Parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete announced at a press conference today that she had decided that Thursday's vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma would be held in secret in the interests of transparency.
ANC MPs have been warned by the governing party to toe the party line when they cast their ballots in the eighth motion of no confidence against Zuma in the National Assembly.
In recent weeks, two ANC lawmakers who publicly said they meant to vote against Zuma were quickly censured by the party.
Party chief whip Jackson Mthembu said ousting Zuma would "have disastrous consequences that can only have a negative impact on the people of South Africa".
The allied opposition parties need a number of votes form the majority ANC members in order for the motion to succeed.
Groenewald has raised the possibility that Mbete's decision to grant a secret ballot may have been made with the knowledge that the ANC had the numbers it needed for the motion to fail.
He said the ANC caucus discussed the motion with four of the party's top six officials in attendance.
At present those who want Zuma gone need the votes of at least 50 ANC MPs in addition to the opposition's 151, assuming the opposition is fully united.
The decision could embolden members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to vote against Mr. Zuma and puts him in a precarious position as he struggles to fend off opposition accusations of corruption and mismanaging the economy.
"Many of them have said to us, if it's secret he [Zuma] is gone".
In similar motion in November a year ago, a vote for Zuma to stay garnered 214 votes, while 126 voted against. "It's what Sotho people call kgomo ya moshate [damned if you do, damned if you don't]", she said. Even if it were‚ they said‚ Zuma was unlikely to be removed.
Some analysts said Zuma could still survive the vote.
South Africa's rand steadied against the dollar early on Monday, as investors readied for a parliamentary no-confidence vote against President Jacob Zuma and economic data in the coming week.
It's nearly D-Day for South Africa's controversial first citizen.
As the ANC in Parliament we have always maintained that we will support whatever decision the Speaker takes on this matter.
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