ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has admitted to meeting former president Jacob Zuma at a Durban hotel on Thursday last week, but was adamant there was no one else at the meeting, which discussed routine party business.
The Sunday Times reported that Magashule, deposed North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, and others were meeting to plot the removal of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Magashule dismissed the claim, but admitted that he had seen Mahumapelo and “many others” at the hotel.
Magashule told eNCA’s Vuyo Mvoko: “There were many people there. Me and president Jacob Zuma had our own meeting and after that I think he met comrade Supra.
“Yes, I was in the meeting with former president Jacob Zuma as arranged. I did meet president Jacob Zuma. The meeting was about organisational issues. It is not the first time I [have met] comrade Jacob Zuma and there was a need for us to meet.”
Magashule said he had visited KwaZulu-Natal to deal with issues in the province’s Moses Mabhida region. He had then called Zuma to arrange a meeting. "There were issues I wanted to discuss with him and I have confided those issues with ANC national officials.”
Mvoko said: “So ANC officials knew that, on Thursday last week, you were going to meet Jacob Zuma?”
To which Magsshule replied: “No. National officials of the ANC did not then know that I’d be meeting president Jacob Zuma. I’m just saying that in our meeting of officials yesterday, I briefed them about that meeting with president Jacob Zuma.”
He said he never asked permission before arranging meetings.
The officials accepted his explanation of the meeting. He also said he wanted to approach the press council to lay a complaint about the Sunday Times report.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe says, “The ANC calls on its members and the public at large not to be misled by this baseless story. We’re 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 the story, which is nothing but incoherent political gossip.”
The African National Congress Youth League's (ANCYL) Provincial Secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, Thanduxolo Sabelo is also seen in pictures attending the meeting.
But Sabelo says there is absolutely no truth to the reports.
“I have taken up the matter with the press ombudsman to say that the Sunday Times has written a false story which seeks to defame me and to cast aspersions on my character. I will demand an apology with immediate effect.”
Sabelo admits that he saw Magashule at the hotel but not for the reasons claimed by the Sunday Times.
“I saw the SG. He was outside the hotel not even inside. Outside the hotel packing his bag inside the car, so I went there to greet him we barely spent five minutes together there and I had to rush back to a PWC meeting which was taking place in the provincial office of the ANC.”
Sabelo says he has a good relationship with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I have no problem with the current president of the ANC. Indeed we have a very good working relationship.”
However, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu says allegations of a plot by a group led by former president Jacob Zuma to oust President Cyril Ramaphosa “deserves urgent attention” by the ruling party’s national executive committee.
“The alleged clandestine plot‚ which regrettably includes the SG [secretary-general] comrade Ace Magashule‚ undermines the unity and renewal efforts of the ANC‚” he tweeted on Sunday.