Typically secret ballots are used in referendums to protect the identity of citizens. They knew they had won and their President was safe, for now. Dozens of ANC members in parliament supported the no-confidence motion.
Zuma's replacement is set to be chosen at a party conference in December this year. Some members of his own party voted against Zuma. Zuma's nine lives pay off Zuma is celebrating after narrowly surviving his eighth no-confidence vote.
Mr Zuma is accused of corruption and mismanagement - charges he denies.
He denies all the corruption allegations against him.
President Jacob Zuma faces a no-confidence vote in the country's parliament. But because five parliament seats are now vacant, the opposition wants the count to be based on 395 seats instead.
But he was left politically wounded after some members of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party voted with the opposition.
Meanwhile, more than 25,000 demonstrators were expected to join the marches both against and in support of Zuma in Cape Town, where South Africa's parliament is located.
Zuma has appeared to be on the back foot for most of the year.
The DA's motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma failed on Tuesday, with just 21 votes separating the two sides. If it succeeds, he must resign immediately.
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Earlier, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane told MPs that it was their choice to do what was best for the country.
The party said it will never surrender the country to Zuma's friends, the Gupta family. A similar replacement process kicked into gear after the ANC recalled former President Thabo Mbeki in 2008.
Many predicted the vote would fail, saying most members of the decades-old liberation party would hesitate to make any major leadership changes initiated by the opposition.
UPDATE: President Zuma has survived yet another motion of no confidence with 198 MPs supporting him and 177 against.
Opposition parties, led by the centrist Democratic Alliance and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, hope the turmoil could mean the once all-powerful ANC is defeated or forced into coalition in the 2019 election.
"The ANC is on the record having said that the organization will accept and abide with any decision that the Speaker takes in this regard, having duly applied herself to the considerations before her", ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.
The draft also says Zuma has "lost all sense of rationality and sound judgment".
"When one combines ongoing political risk, a technical recession and emerging concerns over potential political interference in the hallowed ground of monetary policy, it creates a picture that sellers will remain in control of the South African Rand", Ahmad added.
"The party will spin this as a win, but it's a weak victory", said independent analyst Daniel Silke, after at least 30 of the 249 ANC lawmakers voted to oust the president.