In an interview offered to eNCA, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said weekend reports that he had met with former president Jacob Zuma at a Durban hotel were true, but he denied that he had been plotting with former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo to overthrow President Cyril Ramaphosa, as reported in the Sunday Times.
The meeting was reportedly said to have discussed a fight-back strategy, including taking legal action to nullify ANC national conference resolutions taken last year.
Magashule was reluctant to divulge to eNCA what the meeting with Zuma had been about. He said he had been in the city to deal with “problems in Moses Mabhida” and had needed to meet with Zuma to discuss “organisational matters”.
He explained that he had told the ANC leadership what the reasons were, and they had accepted them.
“I don’t know why there’s controversy. We met in a public place. I met this journalist there who was from the Sunday Times who asked if Supra Mahumapelo had met with Jacob Zuma and I said, ‘It’s not your business.'”
Magashule said that Mahumapelo had had his own meeting with Zuma and he had no idea what they had discussed.
“In my official capacity, I held a meeting with Jacob Zuma, yes.”
He maintained that the ANC leadership had accepted there had been nothing inappropriate about the meeting, and that the party was still united in working as a collective.
“I am not accountable to the media to say who we are meeting as the ANC.” He said the media could not always be privy to internal ANC matters.
He added, though, that he could never plot against Ramaphosa, a man “elected by me”, and that “there has never been any plot”. He questioned how the Sunday Times could have reported on a meeting at which they were not present.
He said he would approach the Press Ombud over the ethics of how the Sunday Times had reported on him.
The ANC had on Sunday called the story “Exposed: Zuma plot to oust Cyril” “sensational hot air”.
Spokesperson Pule Mabe said: “We are disappointed that the Sunday Times, in a very irresponsible and dangerous manner, proceeded to publish this misleading story. We urge the Sunday Times to immediately retract this story, which is nothing but incoherent political gossip that has the potential to undermine the unity of the movement,” he said.
Despite calls by ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu for the party to take the report seriously, ANC presidency head Zizi Kodwa yesterday said the organisation would not investigate the matter.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Kodwa brushed off any effect the reported plot would have on the ANC, saying the party would not question Magashule on the meeting.
“That was not an ANC meeting,” Kodwa told journalists. “The ANC will leave that Durban matter to individuals concerned and will not investigate,” he said.
The South African National Editors’ Forum on Monday condemned alleged threats made against Sunday Times journalist Qaanitah Hunter.
Hunter said she was sent threatening messages from the ANC Women’s League secretary-general, Meokgo Matuba, who included a picture of a gun.
When asked if the picture was meant for Hunter, Matuba responded by saying she was not sure who had sent the image to Hunter’s phone since she apparently shared a phone with many people.
Magashule said that, if the threat was true, it was unacceptable behaviour.