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Protests ahead of Jacob Zuma no-confidence vote

PRETORIA, Tuesday

Protests broke out across South Africa’s northern province of Gauteng on Tuesday ahead of the no-confidence vote against President Jacob Zuma.

The protesters for and against the vote, blocked roads, in the commercial hub Johannesburg and capital Pretoria, with burning tyres and rocks as early as 4am local time.

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) confirmed the protests were related to the motion to force President Zuma to quit.

Lawmakers are set to vote in the no-confidence motion on Tuesday afternoon.

Bus services were disrupted by the blockades‚ forcing transport firms to suspend operations.

“Rea Vaya buses are not operating this morning due to road blockages in Soweto. Passengers will be updated on the situation during the day,” tweeted Johannesburg’s largest bus company.

SOWETO

Among the areas in Johannesburg and Pretoria that were most affected include Soweto, Zandspruit, Booysens, Turffontein, Soshanguve, Atteredgeville and Mamelodi.

JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minaar urged motorists to be careful.

“Soweto and Turffontein residents burnt tyres and blockaded streets from around 4am on Tuesday morning.

READ: Pressure on Zuma as ANC meets

Roads leading from the Soweto highway have been blocked as protesters placed rocks on the road,” said Mr Minaar. Michael Sun, an official at the Mayor’s office, said the protests had not been approved and were illegal.

“We received reports yesterday [Monday] that political parties will be embarking on protest action; some are very peaceful and have displayed placards over the bridges but some are obviously violent with burning of tyres and placing of rocks on the roads. This is creating a bit of chaos in our city and roads,” Mr Sun said in a statement.

PROTESTS

In Cape Town, a port city on the southwest Coast where Parliament is located, the city authorities approved protests for Tuesday afternoon.

Thousands are expected to march in separate protests in support or against President Zuma.

Mr Zuma faces his eighth motion of no-confidence on Tuesday afternoon and, for the first time, it will be a secret ballot.   

READ: Rival S.African parties unite at anti-Zuma protest

But the ANC — which holds a large majority in parliament — said it expected its members to easily defeat the no-confidence motion.

Several opposition parties led thousands of anti-Zuma protesters to the national assembly in Cape Town ahead of the parliamentary session due to begin at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT). “ANC MPs now have no excuse.

ZUMA SURVIVED

They must use their vote… to remove Jacob Zuma,” the main opposition Democratic Alliance party said after the speaker of parliament made a surprise decision Monday to hold the ballot in secret. Zuma has survived several previous parliamentary votes that were held without secret balloting.

A 201-vote majority would be needed to remove him from power, and the ANC holds 249 seats in the 400-seat parliament. His cabinet would also be forced to resign.

“Mbete’s decision was made knowing that Zuma will be secure,” said Darias Jonker of the New York-based Eurasia political analysis consultancy.

“The vast majority of ANC MPs are not willing to risk the stability of the party in order to remove Zuma in this fashion.”

Zuma, 75, is due to step down as head of the ANC in December, and as president before the 2019 general election — lessening pressure for his party to trigger imminent change.

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