Johannesburg - African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general, Ace Magashule, has on Tuesday admitted meeting with former president Jacob Zuma, but denied reports of a plot to unseat President Cyril Ramaphosa was discussed at the Durban gathering.
In an interview with news channel eNCA on Tuesday, Magashule said he needed to meet with Zuma. He said he did meet with former South African Airways (SAA) board chairwoman Dudu Miyeni and other individuals, including ousted North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
"Yes, I was in the meeting with former president Jacob Zuma as arranged, the meeting was about [ANC] organisational issues...it was not the first time I met with Zuma, there was a need for us to meet," Magashule told eNCA anchor Vuyo Mvoko.
"There were many people there, myself and Zuma had our own meeting. I think he met with Supra after that, and we were just waiting there...as we were about to leave we all came together outside. I do not know what Supra and Zuma discussed."
He said he went to KwaZulu-Natal to resolve issues at Moses Mabhida region and met its chairperson.
He then called Zuma the following day asking him for a meeting, because there were issues he needed to discuss with the former president. When asked whether other ANC leaders knew about the meeting, Magashule said he informed them after seeing Zuma.
"There were issues I wanted to discuss with him, national officials did not then know I was meeting with Zuma...I am saying I did brief them about it in our Monday meeting."
The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that top figures in the ANC, including Magashule, were holding secret meetings plotting to remove Ramaphosa. Zuma, Magashule, Mahumapelo, ANC Women's League secretary Matuba Meokgo and ANC Youth League (ANCYL) KwaZulu-Natal leader Thanduxolo Sabelo reportedly met on Thursday at Maharani hotel in Durban.
That meeting was preceded by another one the previous day in Umhlanga Rocks, where Miyeni was in attendance.
Magashule said the ANC bigwigs did accept his reasons for meeting with Zuma, but said he wont disclose the feedback from the ANC leaders.
"How can I disclose party matters? I cannot disclose internal matters discussed as national officials and the national working committee (NWC), that is not how I was taught. Some of these matters do not concern media..that is how we behave as leaders. Organisational matters remain organisational."
Magashule and the rest of the individuals said to have been part of the clandestine meeting supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over from the former president. The group is set to be setting their eyes on challenging the outcomes of the December conference, claiming massive irregularities at branches and that most of the conference delegates were illegitimate.
Asked whether he believed there were any grounds to challenge the December conference outcome, the secretary general said his job is to defend the ANC.
"In the ANC, we exhaust internal processes before turning to the courts. We have a dispute resolution committee. My role is to defend the organisation against any legal action...that is also the role of the ANC collective. I am a principled person, and will always defend the decision of the ANC majority."
Magashule added that there have been disgruntled party members who approached his office disputing the Nasrec conference outcomes and threatening court action. He said his party such legal matters are referred to the party's legal team.
African News Agency (ANA)