South African President Jacob Zuma faces a vote of no-confidence in parliament later on Tuesday, in a secret ballot, which the opposition hopes would embolden members of his party, the African National Congress (ANC) to vote against him.
Zuma,who has held power since 2009, is hoping to show of support that would thwart opposition efforts to force him to step down.
Zuma won the presidential election in 2009 and 2014, but has faced a number of no confidence votes in the past due to accusations of corruption and mismanaging the economy. According to South Africa Constitution, if he loses, President Zuma and his entire cabinet would have to step down and the speaker of Parliament would take up the presidency for 30 days.
Parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete decided to make the secret ballot after an opposition party moved the case to the Constitutional Court to enable more ANC members of parliament to break party ranks,CNN reported.
In the 400-seat parliament :the ANC has 249 seats and the opposition controls 151, so it would take 50 ANC lawmakers backing the opposition to vote Zuma and his cabinet out. But lawmakers of South Africa's ruling African National Congress has pledged to back Zuma in a no-confidence motion.
Thousands of protesters from the various opposition parties took to streets in Cape town where large television screens have been erected for them to watch the parliamentary debate that will precede the vote. Supporters of South Africa's ruling African National Congress are also on the streets shouting slogans for Zuma.
The ruling African National Congress party, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, is deeply divided and several ANC lawmakers have voiced criticism of Zuma.