Julius Malema claims enough ANC legislators support the motion to assure a majority. While others don’t go that far, they hint that it could succeed. But there is a catch: the motion will only pass, they say, if representatives can vote in secret, which needs the help of the courts.

What they want Parliament – and the courts – to do would damage South African democracy. But, they insist, so important is the no confidence vote that it’s worth bending the rules – once only – to win it.

This ignores reality. Democracies are shaped by precedent – “once off” exceptions usually become part of the political furniture. And so it is good news for democracy that they won’t get what they want – the “make or break” no confidence vote is likely to be a damp squib and this means that the assaults on democracy which accompany it probably will not happen, writes Steven Friedman.