South African lawmakers have decided to keep President Jacob Zuma in power, with the ruling ANC party backing the leader against corruption charges. The emotionally-charged vote triggered rallies across the country.
The lawmakers rejected the no-confidence vote against Zuma on Tuesday, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) deputies breaking into song and dance to mark the victory of the embattled leader. The South African president garnered 198 votes to opposition's 177, with nine lawmaker abstaining in the secret ballot.
"We reiterate that we will never endorse or vote in favor of any motion that seeks to cripple our country," the ANC said in a statement following the results. They also accused their rivals of trying to "collapse government, deter service delivery and sow seeds of chaos in society."
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude previously said the motion amounted to a "power grab" by the opposition.
"The ANC rejects this motion with the contempt it deserves," she said ahead of the ballot.
The 75-year-old president has survived several previous attempts to unseat him, but the latest effort marks the first time the issue was decided in a secret ballot.The ANC hold 249 seats in the 400-seat assembly. The results indicate that dozens of ANC lawmakers ended up supporting the no-confidence motion, as the ruling party holds 249 of the seats in parliament, five of which are currently vacant.
The opposition had accused the president of using his influence on behalf of the wealthy Gupta business family. Commenting on the vote outcome, the key opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party said "the majority of the ANC have chosen corruption, looting" over the country's interests.
"Tonight's result, despite the slender victory, signals the death of the ANC," the DA said in a statement. "The result reveals an ANC that is totally divided against itself [...] Zuma is mortally wounded, and his party is in tatters," the statement further read.
Zuma appeared at a rally in Cape Town later on Tuesday, accusing his rivals of trying to use technicalities to take over the government.