Cat with nine lives: Jacob Zuma survives secret no-confidence votes

File ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu said the ruling party was not surprised by Mbete's decision

It was the first such vote on Zuma to be held by secret ballot, and dozens of members of his ruling African National Congress party revolted and supported the motion.

"They are pumping propaganda through the media that the ANC is no longer supported by the people". He also added that the ANC remains untouchable.

If Zuma had lost, he would have been forced to resign along with his entire cabinet.

Parliamentarians will vote from 2 pm (1200 GMT) on Tuesday through secret ballots, raising the chances of the 75-year-old president being removed from office.

Zuma has been engulfed by corruption allegations since coming to office in 2009.

There, MPs of the governing party were, again, reminded of the party line - vote against the motion as the ANC could not support the opposition, which was its nemesis.

Mmusi Maimane, the opposition leader, in an emotional speech that opened the debate, said, "the choice before us is a simple one".

The vote was held by secret ballot - a decision the opposition hoped would embolden ANC members to vote against him.

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"The motion of no-confidence is ... negative", Baleka Mbete, speaker of the 400-member Parliament, said.

It means that at least 26 ruling party MPs, but probably closer to 30, defied their chief whip's instructions and voted with the opposition.

Protesters started to fill the streets of Cape Town, where South Africa's parliament is located, from the morning, with banners urging legislators to "Fire Zuma". "Today, we do what's best for our country or we turn our back on it", he says.

Zuma is due to step down as head of the ANC in December, ahead of the 2019 general election.

So far, Zuma has survived seven no-confidence votes, however none of them were held in secret.

He had particularly upset investors by removing finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March, which hit the country's credit rating.

The ANC parliamentary party celebrated victory over what it described as an attempted "soft coup". Last year, the country's Constitutional Court ruled that the president had to return $15 million in state funds allegedly spent on upgrades to his private home unrelated to security.

Almost 70% of earnings generated by companies in South Africa's Top 40 index are derived in foreign currency, so a weakening rand would be positive for the index's movements.

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