Across Gauteng province, where the commercial hub Johannesburg and capital Pretoria are located, protesters blocked major roads with burning tyres and rocks.
Many clad DA colours carried posters saying “Fire Zuma.” Other posters featured a cartoon of Zuma in a dustbin.
Opposition parties also planned a march in Cape Town, where parliament is located, to push for Zuma’s removal. ANC party members are also expected to rally in the city to support Zuma.
The leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party was expected to hold a protest in Pretoria.
Zuma’s tenure as South Africa’s president is due to run until 2019, when national elections will be held.
He has survived eight no-confidence votes during his eight years in power thanks to loyal voting by ANC lawmakers, who form a strong parliamentary majority. But those votes were not secret.
“This motion, just like others before it, will be defeated,” a statement from the ANC’s chief whip Jackson Mthembu said.
But ANC lawmakers appeared divided.
Derek Hanekom, who was removed as tourism minister in the cabinet reshuffle that cost Gordhan his job, said on Twitter that lawmakers must vote against “massive looting and corruption. Vote for change”.
Nomura analyst Peter Attard Montalto said the decision to have a secret ballot was “a significant surprise” but he expected Zuma to survive.
“We still expect the vote to fail, but attach a 30 percent chance of success,” he said.
If the motion is successful, Zuma would be removed as state president but would remain as ANC leader until December, when he is due to step down and a new leader elected in his place.
Should he be forced to quit as South Africa’s president, the speaker takes over and the National Assembly is expected to elect a new national leader within 30 days.
As the largest party in parliament, the ANC would be expected to select the new president and government.
The ANC — once all-powerful as heir of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle — has lost popularity under Zuma, underscored by its worst electoral showing in over two decades of power in local elections last year. Thousands of people took part in protest marches in April calling for Zuma to step down.