National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete this week defended her decision to allow a secret ballot in the vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma – telling ANC MPs her job is not to shield the party.

She said this during a closed caucus meeting that she could not be expected to act only in the interests of the party when exercising her duties as speaker.

Insiders said Mbete spoke after being asked by chief whip Jackson Mthembu to make an input. She told the gathering that her job required her to go beyond acting in the interests of the ANC.

The speaker said that in making the decision on the vote, she had to factor in the views of the 11 million ordinary South Africans who had put the ANC in power.

Hanekom is one of the ANC MPs suspected of having voted to oust Zuma, as are former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and MP Makhosi Khoza. Gordhan and Khoza were not present at this week’s meeting.