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Secret ballot announcement a 'surprise' - analysts

Aug 07 2017 17:31
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – National Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete's decision to allow for the no confidence vote to be held by secret ballot on Tuesday, caught analysts by surprise.

“This was not expected, as reflected in the rand-dollar exchange rate, which strengthened immediately on the announcement to R13.19/USD from R13.35/$ before the announcement,” said Citi Velocity economist Gina Schoeman in a company note.

“We did not expect Mbete to allow for a secret ballot, as she has been assumed to be a supporter of President Jacob Zuma, particularly as she has shown interest in being an ANC presidential candidate at the December 2017 ANC elective conference.”

Schoeman said one would have expected her to “protect” Zuma and her stated explanation for the secret ballot in the interest of “transparency” raises the question that she may be “switching sides”, or even if this has been the strategy of the ruling party all along.

She cautions that Zuma is likely to survive all types of efforts to remove him as ANC and/or country president.

“It seems from our perspective that the ANC believes that Zuma’s natural exit in December 2017 is the safest strategy leading into the 2019 national election. This is because an earlier exit of the ANC president could increase internal party tensions and lead to a split in some form.”

The likely scenario, Schoeman says, is that Zuma will also survive tomorrow’s no confidence vote.

Peter Attard Montalto, emerging market economist at Japanese bank Nomura, noted that the no confidence motion in Zuma will fail regardless of whether it is secret.

About 42 onshore market participants and investors, 52 offshore market participants and investors and 12 political analysts who took part in a survey seem to agree with Montalto’s stance that the motion will fail regardless of whether the vote is secret.

Nomura expects maybe even 50 to 60 ANC Members of Parliament (MPs) to abstain if it is a secret ballot, but expects only a very small handful to vote with the opposition tomorrow.

The no confidence vote will take place at 14:00 tomorrow.

Political parties in the National Assembly

There are altogether 400 MPs in the National Assembly and therefore 50%, or 201 votes, are needed in favour of the no confidence motion.

Opposition parties have 151 seats, made up as follows:

- DA: 89

- EFF: 25

- IFP: 10

- NFP: 6

- UDM: 4

- FFP: 4

- Cope: 3

- SCDP: 3

- AIC: 3

- Agang: 2

- PAC: 1 and

- APC: 1

“Assuming all opposition MPs vote for the no confidence motion, then a further 50 of the 249 ANC MPs need to vote for it. That is one in five ANC MPs,” Schoeman says.  

Pressure on ANC mounting - OUTA

Wayne Duvenage, chairperson of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), said in a statement Mbete's decision doesn't guarantee Zuma's removal from office. 

"We will now find out if there is sufficient moral courage for the ANC MPs to make what many believe is the right decision - to remove a corrupt president from office. However, whatever the outcome of tomorrow's vote, South Africa is poised for change.

"If Jacob Zuma is still in office after the motion of no confidence on August 8, the heat placed on the ANC to remove him as their head - or at least the country’s president - will become untenable."

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