ANC Treasurer General Mathews Phosa. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa on Tuesday said he was not able to respond in time to verbal attacks on the ANC leadership made by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema in his presence.

“I did not have the urge to respond in time,” Phosa told reporters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.

Phosa shared the stage with Malema on Friday at a centenary lecture at Wits university.

During his speech Malema said Zuma had replaced democracy with dictatorship, and that the ANCYL was being traumatised and suppressed. Phosa said he had responded in his speech.

“I said in response... The masses of our country do not appreciate it when leaders engage in public spats,” he said.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said those who used ANC's leaders names to divide the organisation would not be successful.

Last month, Motlanthe reprimanded ANCYL members in Limpopo who wore t-shirts bearing his face.

Mantashe said Motlanthe was sent by the office of the party's secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, to attend the youth league centenary rally. He said the ANC had not met with the league yet, and it did not intend to as it was being cautious.

The ANC did not want to cause confusion while disciplinary processes were ongoing, Mantashe said. - Sapa