Zuma, who has been implicated in a series of corruption scandals, has survived similar votes in the past.
Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete, a top official of Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC), said she had no powers to agree to a secret ballot. The ANC holds a majority in parliament.
The opposition believes the latest motion will have better prospects if it is conducted in secret.
Dali Mpofu, a lawyer representing the United Democratic Movement party, told the Constitutional Court in televised proceedings that the speaker had an “obligation to arrange for a private ballot”.
Richard Calland, a member of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), told Al Jazeera the opposition was lobbying for a secret ballot because ANC lawmakers were under pressure to vote in Zuma’s favour.
“They [the opposition] believe, as do many of us, that some of the back bench men of the ANC would not be able to exercise a free will when voting on this matter because they all fear for their jobs, fear for their future,” he said.
“Therefore, the secret ballot is necessary to protect them and the constitution.”
‘Vote with your conscience’
Tens of thousands of South Africans have staged protests in recent weeks demanding Zuma’s resignation, and opposition parties, religious groups and civil society activists have joined forces against him.
The protests were sparked when Zuma sacked his widely respected finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, leading to a tumbling of the country’s currency and stock markets, causing losses worth millions of dollars.
Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party has appealed to ANC lawmakers to “vote with their conscience”.
“ANC members of parliament will have to choose between what is best for themselves and what is best for South Africa,” he told protesters gathered outside the Constitutional Court on Monday.
“They did not swear (their oath of office) to be faithful to Jacob Zuma, or to the ANC… They promised to be faithful to South Africa.”
The constitution calls for a secret ballot to elect the president, but it is silent on the procedure for a no-confidence motion, according to Calland, the CASAC member.
“There’s a gap in the rules. There’s a gap in the constitution… And that’s why the matter has ended up in court,” he said.
The ANC, which Nelson Mandela led to power in the 1994 post-apartheid elections, has lost popularity under Zuma in the face of a spate of scandals and a failure to address slow economic growth, high unemployment and glaring income disparities
“Zuma’s time is up… We are going to march until he leaves, and today we are here to support the court case,” 22-year-old demonstrator Tsido Molefe told the AFP news agency:
Separately, local media reported that ANC supporters in the port city of Durban marched to protest against what the party says is the pandering of the judiciary to the opposition.
Earlier in May, South Africa’s High Court ordered Zuma to provide reasons for Gordhan’s sacking. Last week, Zuma requested legal permission for an appeal against the order.
South Africa’s Constitutional Court last year found Zuma guilty of violating the constitution after he refused to repay taxpayer money used to refurbish his private rural home.
He is also fighting a court order that could reinstate almost 800 corruption charges against him over a multi-billion dollar arms deal in the 1990s.
The post South Africa court to rule on Zuma confidence vote appeared first on African Media Agency.
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