JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The South African Communist Party (SACP), a key ally of the ruling party, will vote to keep President Jacob Zuma's government in power in a no confidence vote next week, its spokesman said on Saturday.


Zuma faces the no confidence motion on Aug. 8, the ninth time the opposition will have tried to unseat him by peeling off dissidents from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, whose majority has so far protected him by closing ranks.


If the motion succeeds, Zuma - in power since 2009 - and his entire cabinet would have to step down.


"The SACP does not have a mandate to support the removal of the whole ANC-led government or executive," spokesman Alex Mashilo said. "Its mandate is specifically to pursue the resignation of President Zuma."


The SACP, which has 17 members in parliament, said it was in talks with the ANC and labor federation Congress of South African Trade Unions about getting Zuma to resign.


"If the president does not resign after engagements between SACP and the ANC, we will assess if a new course of action is needed to remove him," Mashilo said.

Zuma, 75, has suffered a string of judicial and political setbacks since he took office in 2009, but has held onto power with the backing of his party, which dominates parliament.

The motion was brought by the Democratic Alliance and to pass it needs 201 MPs to vote in favor. The ANC said on Friday its 249 MPs would have to be "bewitched" to vote for it.

In July, South Africa's top court ruled that secret ballots can be held for motions of no confidence if the speaker of parliament so decides. She has not decided.

Zuma's critics want the no confidence vote to be anonymous, hoping it will embolden ANC lawmakers to support his removal by shielding them from pressure from other party members.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Stephen Powell)