Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the South African National Assembly, on Thursday said, she would “do the right thing” on whether to allow a secret ballot that could oust President Jacob Zuma.
The New Age newspaper on Thursday reported that it was unclear what Mbete’s comments meant, but she called on the people of South Africa to trust its lawmakers.
The paper quoted 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.
The country’s top 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 his African National Congress party to support his ouster by shielding them from pressure.
The Zuma administration has been beset by scandals and criticised for failing to address serious economic problems.
Mbete was non-committal after the Constitutional Court ruling, simply noting that she now had the right to decide.
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.
The chorus of criticism against Zuma from inside the ruling African National Congress and the opposition has grown since he fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in March, a move that prompted S&P Global Ratings and Fitch to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to “junk” status.