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The rand slipped to three-week lows against the dollar yesterday, erasing most of the previous session’s gains in a cautious market as a vote on a motion of no-confidence against President Jacob Zuma drew closer.

The Zuma administration has been beset by scandals and criticised for failing to address serious economic problems, with the president surviving eight motions of no-confidence since taking office in 2009.

If the current motion, scheduled for August 8, succeeds Zuma and his entire cabinet would have to step down.

Speaker Baleka Mbete, who will decide whether to allow a secret ballot that could be more likely to oust Zuma, said yesterday she would “do the right thing”.

“We still wait for the Speaker of Parliament to announce her decision on the secret ballot,” Rand Merchant Bank analyst Isaah Mhlanga said, adding market focus was also on US non-farm payrolls data due on Friday.

At 5pm, the rand was bid at R13.3934 to the dollar, 14.38c softer than at the same time on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, stocks inched past a new record high peak, buoyed by British American Tobacco (BATS).

The benchmark JSE Top40 index was up 0.89% at 49243.79 points, while the all share index advanced 0.88% to a new high of 55687 in intraday trading, but retreated slightly to close on 55685.01 points.

BATS, which has a secondary listing on the JSE, recovered some of the past week’s losses after JP Morgan said it saw excessive concerns about regulation in the US as a buying opportunity.

BATS gained 3.59% to close at R873.50.