President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses professionals in Sandton, Johannesburg. PHOTO: Getrude Makhafola/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) Free State provincial executive committee has suspended Dihlabeng Municipality Mayor Lindiwe Makhalema for calling President Cyril Ramaphosa a "sellout" in a Facebook post.

Party spokesman Thabo Meeko on Thursday said Makhalema was suspended from taking part in any ANC activities. She will also vacate her mayoral post pending completion of disciplinary procedures instituted against her.

Makhalema was rebuked by some ANC members in the Facebook post who accused her of sowing divisions in the governing party, after she labelled Ramaphosa as a "sellout".

The Facebook page is closed to at least 80,000 party members. One of the users reportedly asked the members whom they thought were the biggest sellouts, to which Makhalema replied "Ramaphosa".  

She reportedly stuck to her guns when called out by members, indicating that she did not care if she lost her job.

READ: ANC calls for action against mayor who called Ramaphosa a 'sellout'

Free State Premier Sefora Sisi Ntombela lambasted Makhalema for the post, as did the ANC at Luthuli House on Wednesday. 

The party headquarters  said it has recently found out that there has been an increase in attacks and insults on ANC leaders on social media, especially Ramaphosa, and urged the Free State executive committee to institute disciplinary procedures against Makhalema.

"The ANC believes that it is possible to express viewpoints without resorting to personal attacks and insults.The ANC social media policy’s (Rule 36) prescribes that any social media posting must be legal, ethical and respectful at all times while rule 40 prohibits members from utilising inflammatory language," the governing party said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We therefore find the recent upsurge in insults towards our leadership, particularly the president, extremely disturbing and view them in serious light. The use of social media platforms should at all times be in line with the ANC Constitution and Code of Conduct and seek to advance debates and discussions in a rational and responsible manner."

African News Agency/ANA