ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Cape Town - The ANC is set to take the Democratic Alliance to court for “spreading malicious lies” about President Jacob Zuma and his Nkandla homestead.

The ruling party said on Thursday the DA was guilty of violating electoral codes and laws.

“In recent weeks, the DA has been engaging in spreading malicious lies about the president, deliberately distorting the findings in the public protector's report,” African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

The ANC had therefore launched an urgent application in the High Court in Johannesburg to stop the DA from “violating” the Electoral Act and Electoral Code of Conduct.

These prohibited electioneering based on false information.

“On March 20, the ANC learnt of a bulk sms, distributed by or on behalf of the DA, falsely accusing the president of having stolen public money to build his private residence in Nkandla.”

Mthembu said the bulk sms contained the message: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246 million home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.”

This, he said, demonstrated a “flagrant disregard” of the election pledge, and was a violation of the Code of Conduct and the Electoral Act.

“These false accusations are designed to influence voters to perceive the ANC negatively and to distort public discourse.”

Mthembu said the court application followed a letter of demand, sent to the Democratic Alliance on March 24, “wherein we demanded the DA... retract and apologise for the false and vindictive text messages”.

However, the main opposition party had “arrogantly refused to retract and apologise”. Further, the DA had used these “deliberately fabricated false accusations” to call for Zuma's impeachment.

“These false accusations unduly prejudice the person of the president (and) the ANC, and poison the electoral atmosphere. In this way they have undermined the fact that Parliament has not received and considered the report of the public protector.”

It was the view of the ANC that Chapter Nine institutions, including that of the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, should report to Parliament in writing on the outcome of their work which required Parliament's attention.

“We agree with the chief whip of the ANC (Stone Sizani) that such work assists Parliament with its oversight role and holding the executive and other state institutions accountable.

“The Public Protector's response to the ANC chief whip's assertion on the impeachment said that her office had not submitted its report to Parliament, and that secondly she has not requested Parliament to act on the report.”

This emphasised the view that there was no basis for impeachment arising out of her report.

Contacted on Thursday afternoon, DA federal council chairman James Selfe said he could not immediately say anything on the court application.

“I can't (say anything) at the moment... I need to discuss this with our attorney.”

Selfe said the DA would issue a statement on the matter later.