South African parliament to debate call for early election next week

FILE PHOTO: South Africa's President Jacob Zuma celebrates with his supporters after he survived a no-confidence motion in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

CAPE Town (Reuters) - South Africa’s parliament will next week debate a proposal for early national elections tabled by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), the party said on Thursday.

The DA is trying to force President Jacob Zuma from office before the next scheduled election in 2019, but despite his chequered record in office, the motion seems unlikely to pass.

Zuma is expected to step down as president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December while his term as president runs up to the next election.

He has held power in Africa’s most industrialized economy since 2009, surviving a series of no-confidence votes called in response to a record in office marred by allegations of sleaze and influence-peddling.

At the last vote on Aug. 8, about 30 ANC lawmakers broke ranks and voted with the opposition, emboldening the DA to push for early elections.

“The reality is that South Africa cannot afford another two years of ANC governance,” the DA’s chief parliamentary whip, John Steenhuisen, said in a statement.

But the ANC retains an overwhelming majority in parliament, and smaller opposition parties said they would not support the DA’s motion, which will be debated on Sept. 5.

Africa’s most industrialized economy slipped into recession earlier this year, hampering efforts to bring down a stubbornly high unemployment rate.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by James Macharia and John Stonestreet