South Africa court to rule on Zuma confidence vote

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South African opposition rallies against Zuma
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South African opposition rallies against Zuma
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South Africa's highest court was to decide Monday whether lawmakers can cast secret ballots in a no-confidence vote in President Jacob Zuma who is facing growing criticism within the ruling ANC.

Several hundred protesters marched to the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg in the latest demonstrations against Zuma, who has been implicated in a series of corruption scandals.

Opposition parties have lobbied for a secret ballot and called for African National Congress (ANC) lawmakers to "vote with their conscience".

The ANC holds a large majority in parliament and Zuma has survived similar votes in the past, which have not been secret.

"ANC members of parliament will have to choose between what is best for themselves and what is best for South Africa," Mmusi Maimane, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, told protesters.

Zuma's sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March has fanned years of public anger over government corruption scandals, record unemployment and slowing economic growth.

"Zuma's time is up," 22-year-old marcher Tsido Molefe told AFP.

"We are going to march until he leaves, and today we are here to support the court case," she said.

The president has recently faced unprecedented criticism from senior ANC figures, including from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Zuma, who came to office in 2009, is due to step down as head of the ANC in December, and as national president ahead of the 2019 general election.

He is seen as favouring his ex-wife, former African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to succeed him -- rather than Ramaphosa.

Zuma has been accused of being in the sway of the wealthy Gupta business family, allegedly granting them influence over government appointments, contracts and state-owned businesses.

The dismissal of Gordhan saw the Fitch ratings agency as well as Standard and Poor's cut South Africa's sovereign credit rating to junk status due to fears of political instability and growing corruption.

The ANC -- which Nelson Mandela led to power in the 1994 post-apartheid elections -- has lost popularity in recent years, taking just 55 percent of the vote in last year's local elections, its worst ever result.

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