South African President Jacob Zuma faces a parliamentary vote of no-confidence Tuesday in a secret ballot that will test the loyalty of members of his party, the African National Congress (ANC).
Parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete decided to make the vote private after an opposition party took the case to the Constitutional Court to enable more ANC members of parliament to break party ranks.
As head of the party that led South Africa out of apartheid, Zuma won the presidential election in 2009 and 2014, but has faced a number of no confidence votes in the past and has been dogged by criminal investigations and corruption allegations.
According to the South African constitution, if he loses, President Zuma and his entire cabinet would have to step down and the speaker of Parliament would take up the presidency for 30 days.
President Zuma’s term is currently due to run until 2019.
Last year, the Constitutional Court ordered Zuma to repay millions of dollars in public funds spent on refurbishing his private homestead. The polygamist and father of more than 20 children also faces more than 783 allegations of corruption relating to a 1990s arms deal.
Zuma, 75, denies the corruption allegations against him. And despite street protests, opposition maneuvering, and defections from his own party, he refuses to step down. More protests against him are expected in South Africa in the hours running up to the vote Tuesday. Supporters are also expected to take Cape Town streets.
In the past, the ANC has always managed to close ranks when faced with internal division, but a new spate of corruption allegations has severely tested Africa’s oldest liberation movement.
Zuma and his closest supporters already stand accused of having questionable links with the Guptas — a wealthy expat Indian family with vast business interests in South Africa — after an official report by the former public protector, an anti-corruption watchdog, found evidence of possible government corruption and recommended an official inquiry.
Zuma and the Guptas denied the allegations in last year’s report.