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S.Africa court delays last-ditch bid for Zuma censure vote

South Africa’s highest court Friday delayed a last-ditch attempt by opposition parties to order parliament to debate a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma before the end of the year.

The Constitutional Court said it will hear an application on the scheduling of the censure vote only next year.

“The application will be heard on 28 March 2013,” said Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, who wanted the debate to be urgently scheduled by December 7, the last day of the parliamentary year.

Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) would have easily overturned the motion with its overwhelming majority. But the timing would have been embarrassing for Zuma, who faces competition as he seeks re-election in party polls next month.

“We are disappointed that the application cannot be heard before the end of this year,” said Mazibuko, who acted on behalf of seven other parties.

But she said the court’s agreeing to hear the application was “a great victory” in protecting the constitutional principle that a majority party could not use its dominance to bar such a vote.

The DA argued that the ANC had delayed the debate and that the parliament speaker failed to solve a scheduling stand-off and put the matter on the agenda before the house had its last sitting.

The ANC has slammed the DA’s motion as “hogwash” and was initially opposed to the debate but has since suggested it take place after the December leadership meeting and in the new year.