President Jacob Zuma on Thursday escaped an embarrassing censure vote in parliament after South Africa’s High Court turned down an opposition bid for an urgent debate on his leadership.
“I must dismiss the application,” Judge Dennis Davis said in Cape Town, turning down an opposition party application for the debate to be held on Thursday.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance turned to the courts after the debate was quashed by Zuma’s ANC allies in parliament.
The ANC has suggested the debate take place after a December leadership meeting at which Zuma is seeking re-election.
The majority ANC is certain to easily overturn a vote but it would have come at an unwelcome time to Zuma who is fighting internal ANC divisions and is facing intense scrutiny of his personal affairs.
The motion was submitted in the National Assembly by eight opposition parties, working in rare unity against the African National Congress (ANC) which has held an overwhelming majority since putting Nelson Mandela in power in 1994.
Judge Davis said he had come to his conclusion “with some regret”.
However, he said a gap in parliament’s rules on how to deal with a deadlock on the scheduling of such a debate was not one that the courts could fix.