The ruling party has labeled the motion of no confidence tabled against the president on Thursday as a "playful, silly publicity stunt" that "belongs to the rubbish bin".
Opposition parties, including the African Christian Democratic Party, Azanian People's Organisation, Congress of the People, the Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Front Plus, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the United Christian Democratic Party and the African People's Convention, tabled the motion in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.
The parties said the motion was motivated by the Marikana killings; the Nkandlagate scandal; the failure by the government to deliver textbooks and workbooks to school children in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape; the downgrading of South Africa's credit rating by two major ratings agencies; the mounting disrespect for our Constitution and judiciary; unemployment; and the "uncontrollable and rising tide" of corruption in the public service.
Shortly after DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko tabled the motion, the ANC tabled a counter-motion proposing that Parliament reaffirm its full confidence in Zuma's leadership.
In a statement released shortly afterwards, the ANC said it had reaffirmed its "resolve to quash any frivolous and narrow publicity-seeking gimmicks masquerading as motions in the National Assembly by some opposition parties".
Moloto Mothapo, spokesperson for the party's chief whip, said that the motion was not based on any fact or evidence, and therefore amounts to nothing but character assassination.
"The so-called 'motion of no confidence' in President Jacob Zuma is a desperate, if not silly, publicity stunt by a group of attention-seeking opposition leaders. Such a stunt would be laughable or dismissed with silent contempt if it did not make a mockery of this august Parliament," he said.
"Those opposition parties involved in this gimmick ought to know that political power and mandate to lead is obtained through polls, not through the backdoors of the National Assembly. The attempt to usurp people's power through silly motions is bound to fail epically, just like it did before," he added.
Mothapo was referring to an incident in March 2010, in which Cope filed a motion of no confidence against him. Mvume Dandala, the party’s parliamentary leader at the time, said Zuma had lost the confidence of Parliament owing to his "wilful conduct and dangerously flawed judgment".
Zuma breezed through the incident unscathed after the ANC proposed – and had accepted—an amendment motion proposing full confidence instead.
It's unlikely that the motion will succeed again this time. In order for it to be passed, it must be supported by more than 50% of Parliament, or receive at least 201 votes. The ANC still holds a two-thirds majority in Parliament, so unless its members vote against it, the opposition parties will have no way of achieving this figure.
The motion will go onto an order paper on Tuesday and then be scheduled for debate at the discretion of the National Assembly programme committee.
But it's unclear when a debate on the motion will be heard. According to the DA's chief whip Watty Watson there are currently hundreds of motions for debate on the order paper; of these only five have been initiated before Parliament this year.