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ANC blocks Zuma censure

South Africa’s ruling ANC on Thursday blocked a debate on a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, a move described by the official opposition as signalling a constitutional crisis.

National Assembly speaker and ANC veteran Max Sisulu used the party’s dominance to set aside the motion, brought jointly by eight opposition parties.

The ANC, which holds just under two-thirds of the seats in the house, had described the motion as “frivolous.”

That left opposition leaders crying foul.

“Today’s decision has not only ushered in a constitutional crisis, but it has brought into question the relevance of our democratically elected parliament,” the main opposition Democratic Alliance said in a statement.

The motion was submitted last week in a rare show of opposition unity against the ANC, which put Nelson Mandela in power in 1994.

The parties blame Zuma’s poor leadership in the face of a myriad of pressing challenges facing the country, including a slowing economy, unemployment, spiralling corruption and the weakening and politicisation of the justice system.

In 2010, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against a motion of confidence against Zuma brought by the ANC breakaway movement, the Congress of the People.