How many times has Zuma actually faced a vote of no confidence?

We’re guessing the 8th day of the 8th month made 8 previous votes sound really catchy, but after doing a little bit of research we found out that Zuma has only (almost) faced the vote 6 times.


South African President Jacob Zuma survived another push for a vote of no confidence on Tuesday — and for the first time, the vote was held by secret ballot. The embattled Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) party, which controls Parliament, overcame speculation that a secret vote might prove to be his undoing.

The final vote was 198 to 177, with nine abstentions. The motion of no confidence would have needed 201 votes to remove Zuma from office.

Social media timelines were inundated with posts referring to Zuma and the fact that he would be facing his “8th vote of no confidence on the 8th day of the 8th month in his 8th year as president” but it seems as though that number might be slightly muddled.

After doing a quick online search, we found that some news agencies were reporting on his 6th vote of no confidence while others were citing the number 8, which left us slightly confused.

Luckily we found, a non-partisan organisation which promotes accuracy in public debate and the media.

The organisation released a ‘fact check sheet’ which stated that technically the President has actually only faced 4 votes of no confidence in total and 2 unsuccessful motions… so we can collectively call it 6.

“Since Zuma took office, five draft resolutions about motions of no confidence in the president have been brought before the National Assembly. Three motions of no confidence have been voted on, one has been amended and one has been withdrawn,” parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo told Africa Check before the most recent vote.

There was also 1 ‘motion to impeach Zuma listed’ on the fact sheet, but that motion was kept completely separate as it was not a ‘vote of no-confidence’. If we did add it in, then the total number of times would be 7.

The updated actual breakdown of the no-confidence votes goes as follows…

4 Motions of no-confidence voted on:

  • 17 March 2015
  • 1 March 2016
  • 10 November 2016
  • 8 August 2017

1 Motion amended:

  • 18 March 2010

1 Motion withdrawn:

  • 3 March 2015

So unless there were other ‘votes of no-confidence’ that have not been listed, we can all agree that the number is 6. Yet somehow the new number of ‘8 previous votes of no-confidence’ created on social media was being shared by many leading mainstream media news networks as fact.

In a world with a growing demand for content, social media is extremely useful, but also poses a dilemma. Somehow opinions on social media can turn into fact in mainstream media.

And even though ‘it’s just a number’, an example like this brings to light that social media can literally shape and change the news, influencing what we think we know.

If social media has the ability to take opinions and turn them into fact… then we need to have the ability to know the difference between fact and opinion, especially when the stories (insert one created by Bell Pottinger here) become more than ‘just a number’.

8th vote of no confidence 1 8th vote of no confidence 1

Sources: AfricaCheck | EWN | Various Social Media sites
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy. Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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