Johannesburg — President Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence vote Tuesday in the seventh and most serious attempt to unseat him after months of growing anger in South Africa over alleged corruption and a sinking economy. But his African National Congress party, which has ruled since the end of apartheid, continued to fracture.

The latest vote to try to dislodge Zuma was the first held by secret ballot after parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete made the surprise decision to allow it. Opposition parties hoped it would encourage ANC legislators to vote against Zuma without fear of retaliation.

Instead, ANC members in the chamber began singing shortly before the results were announced.

A jubilant Zuma, who would have had to resign with his Cabinet if the motion had succeeded, promised the ANC would win the next election in 2019 “in a big number once again.” He dismissed “propaganda” that said his party no longer has the people’s support.

“We will never endorse or vote in favor of any motion that seeks to cripple our country,” the ANC said, calling the vote an attempt to remove the party from power.

Of the 384 votes cast, 177 were in favor of the no-confidence motion and 198 were against, with nine abstentions. The no-confidence motion needed 201 votes to succeed.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance party said after the vote that “the majority of the ANC have chosen corruption, looting” over the country’s interests.

Widespread frustration over Zuma has hurt the ANC, the former liberation movement of Nelson Mandela that has led South Africa since the end of white minority rule and the first all-race elections in 1994. Some longtime party members and anti-apartheid activists have openly called on Zuma to go.

Demonstrations both for and against the 75-year-old Zuma, who has led South Africa since 2009, took place in front of the parliament building in Cape Town before the vote.

“We have got to get rid of this man before he destroys everything that we have all worked so hard for,” said protester, Anne Shirley.

While Zuma’s term continues until elections in 2019, there have been calls from within the ANC for him to quit earlier and allow the party to build up support before the vote. The party is expected to replace Zuma as ANC president at a meeting in December.


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