South Africa’s scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma has survived a move by several members of his party to hold a no-confidence motion against him.
Zuma has been weakened by corruption scandals, but his supporters were taken by surprise at an attempt to oust him at a weekend meeting of the African National Congress’ (ANC) Executive Committee.
The rebellion, led by at least four ministers, was the most serious threat to Zuma’s hold on power since he became president in 2009.
Beeld, an Afrikaans-language daily, reported that Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom had proposed holding the vote to oust Zuma at the meeting.
The proceedings also shook the ANC party, that has ruled since the end of apartheid in 1994, but recently suffered a sharp setback in local elections.
“Following robust, honest, candid and at times difficult discussions, the [Executive Committee] did not support the call for the president to step down,” Gwede Mantashe, the ANC secretary-general, told reporters.
“All members had an opportunity to raise the issues they feel are hurting the movement and the country. All these are very important.”
Local media reported the meeting – which was extended into Monday – was tense with tempers flaring and some ministers threatening to resign if Zuma stayed.
Zuma left South Africa early on Tuesday to attend the funeral of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg, said the closed-door meeting marked a difficult time for many members of the Executive Committee.
“An open debate was held and although no voting took place, it became apparent that there was not enough support for the motion,” she said.
“There’s been mounting pressure on Zuma’s leadership by the civil society, and many analysts said he’s managed to dodge a bullet.”
Zuma’s presidency has been plagued by accusations of corruption. The nation’s anti-graft watchdog this month asked for a judge to investigate alleged influence-peddling by a wealthy family Zuma has called his friends.
The report by the Public Protector watchdog, released on November 2, focused on allegations that businessman brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta had influenced the appointment of ministers.
Zuma and the Gupta brothers have denied any wrongdoing.
Since taking office in 2009, Zuma, 74, has survived several corruption scandals with the backing of top echelons of the ANC.