Baleka Mbete: I Will Do The 'Right Thing' On Zuma Vote

But what does that mean?
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma arrives with Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma arrives with Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete.
Mike Hutchings / Reuters

(Reuters) The woman who will decide whether to allow a secret ballot that could oust South African President Jacob Zuma was quoted on Thursday as saying she would "do the right thing".

What that means was unclear from Speaker Baleka Mbete's comments to The New Age newspaper, but she called on the people of South Africa to trust its lawmakers.

The Constitutional Court in June ruled that secret ballots may be held for motions of no confidence in parliament, but did not order one, leaving the decision to Mbete.

Zuma's critics want a no-confidence vote in Zuma to be anonymous hoping it will embolden lawmakers from the ANC to support his ouster by shielding them from pressure.

ANC MPs, Makhosi Khoza and Mondli Gungubele are the only ones to say publicly they will vote against Zuma in the motion of no confidence on August 8, but analysts say they are not alone in their opposition to the president in the ANC's Parliamentary caucus.

Mbete was non-committal after the Constitutional Court ruling, simply noting that she now had the right to decide.

On Thursday, the New Age reported Mbete as promising to "apply her mind judiciously" and "do the right thing".

"What I am willing to say to the people of South Africa, as members of parliament ... trust us," Mbete said.

A motion of no confidence requires a simple majority to pass, in this case 201 votes out of the 400-member parliament.

The 75-year-old Zuma has survived eight previous motions of no-confidence since taking office in 2009. If the motion succeeds Zuma and his entire cabinet would have to step down.