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South African court opens way to secret ballot in vote against Zuma

Staff Writer |
South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled that the speaker of parliament can order a secret ballot in an upcoming no-confidence vote against President Jacob Zuma, a move that would open the way for members of his own party to vote against him.

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That might make it possible to eventually oust the president, who has come under mounting pressure to resign over a string of corruption scandals.

"Without any fear of reprisals, the secret ballot has been identified as the best voting mechanism" by opposition parties, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said during the court session broadcast live by the television channel eNCA.

Zuma has already survived several no-confidence motions, but he is now facing increasing criticism within his own African National Congress (ANC).

Analysts say a faction of the party could turn against him if the ballot is secret.

Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete, a member of the ANC, had earlier argued she had no powers to order a secret ballot.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) proposed the no-confidence vote after Zuma sacked popular finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March.

The date of the vote has not yet been set.

Zuma's reputation has been tarnished by a string of scandals, including the use of taxpayers' money to upgrade his country home and his friendship with the Gupta business family, which has been accused of securing lucrative state contracts in corrupt deals.

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