President Jacob Zuma has survived a motion of no confidence in his presidency, held via secret ballot in Parliament.

Following a two-hour debate and lengthy voting process, 198 MPs voted against the Democratic Alliance's bid to remove Zuma, while 177 voted for.

About 30 ANC MPs voted for Zuma to be removed.

A simple majority of 201 votes was required to remove Zuma as president.

Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete announced on Monday that the vote would be held via secret ballot for the first time ever.

Zuma has survived several previous motions of no confidence in his presidency over the last eight years, all held via open ballot.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who tabled the motion, earlier asked MPs to act "courageously" and vote Zuma out. He said this vote was not about political parties, but about the people of South Africa.

ANC leaders who spoke against the motion, including Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, accused the opposition parties of seeking "regime change" through voting Zuma out.

The failure of the motion will strengthen Zuma's position in the party and strengthen the belief that the ANC does not have the capacity to recall Zuma, irrespective of the amounts of scandals he has been embroiled in.

The party goes to an elective conference in December, where Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to challenge Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former AU commission chair, for the ANC presidency.

Some of Ramaphosa's supporters have recently warned that a successful motion would have put him in an awkward position, where Zuma was still ANC president, but Ramaphosa had to run the country until December.