The speaker of South Africa‘s parliament said on Sunday she would consider a request from opposition parties to hold a ‘no confidence’ vote on President Jacob Zuma.
Previous no-confidence motions against Zuma have failed as the ANC has a commanding majority, but there is a growing backlash against him from within his own party and its allies after a string of missteps which have culminated with his firing of a respected finance minister that rocked markets.
Speaker Baleka Mbete, who is also the national chairperson of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said in a televised news conference after she cut short a trip abroad that she wanted to ensure the opposition requests were “given the appropriate consideration.”
“I must stress that I am alive to the extreme challenges and sense of anxiety our young democracy is going through at this moment,” Mbete said.
Analysts say the sacking of finance minister Pravin Gordhan last week may trigger damaging credit downgrades from ratings agencies, which would drive up the government’s borrowing costs and restrict its ability to carry out the populist redistribution policies Zuma has indicated he wants to pursue.
Zuma’s authority has been steadily undermined as his administration has staggered through a series of blunders and scandals, including the use of state funds to make lavish improvements to his rural homestead and a debacle that threatened the payment of social grants to millions who depend on them.