South African President Jacob Zuma survived his second no-confidence vote in a year on Tuesday, over what the main opposition Democratic Alliance party called his reckless handling of the economy.
Zuma had the support of the African National Congress (ANC), which controls almost two-thirds of the assembly. He won with 225 lawmakers voting against the no-confidence motion. Ninety-nine voted in favour and 22 abstained, a result that mirrored his victory last March. Zuma did not attend the proceedings.
Protests have been growing outside parliament, particularly after the sudden firing of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December that triggered a market sell-off.
“President Jacob Zuma has become a one-man wrecking ball who will stop at nothing in order to survive, including wrecking the economy and wrecking South Africa,” David Maynier, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) shadow minister of finance, told parliament during the nationally televised debate.
Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the DA party, said South Africans wanted Zuma taken to task for his “reckless” handling of the economy and sending the country into financial crisis.
“Let’s not forget the 8.2 million who are unemployed,” Maimane said “Let’s remove President Zuma.”
The unemployment rate stands at close to 25 percent, and the Treasury forecasts the economy may expand just 0.9 percent in 2016, the lowest rate since South Africa emerged from recession in 2009.
The ANC dismissed what it called “the frivolous antics of the DA cloaked as democracy” in a message on its Twitter feed.
Lindiwe Zulu, a minister in Zuma’s cabinet, told parliament that the international community had confidence in Zuma.
“You can shout on top of your voices, you will not change that,” she said in the debate that lasted about three hours.
Credit rating agencies say South Africa risks a downgrade that could take it below investment grade.
“What the opposition parties are hoping to do is, firstly to weaken Zuma’s position through generating anti-Zuma publicity in the public domain. And second of all, contributing to prizing open further the cracks in the ANC,” Daryl Glaser, political analyst at Wits University.