ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has dispelled rumours that she wants to take over from Ace Magashule.
A letter sent by Duarte to party structures identified her as secretary-general, a position held by corruption-accused Magashule.
The former Free State premier has been charged with 21 counts of fraud, corruption, and money laundering in connection with a R255 million asbestos audit corruption case.
He made his first appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on Friday, and while there have been calls in some quarters for him to step aside, Magashule was expected to remain in his position.
On Friday, simmering divisions were reignited again when Magashule issued a dare to his political detractors by warning that he was ready to “get in the ring”.
The magistrate’s court in Mangaung became a playing field for ANC factional battles when Magashule supporters shouted for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.
When he took the microphone following his first court appearance, Magashule also fired warning shots at Ramaphosa and his allies.
Duarte’s letter was meant to update the party’s structures about new deadlines for member registration and conferences.
In a voice note, Duarte said a staffer made an error in the letter by referring to her as the secretary-general and not the deputy.
“Good morning comrades, I am sending you a note which is a bit personal and very hurtful. A staff member in my office sent out a letter with regards to the cut-off dates for membership as at the 15 December which is a decision of the national working committee,” she said.
“He inadvertently at the bottom of the letter signed it as ‘Jessie Duarte, secretary-general’. You are now sending out, some of you comrades, WhatsApp messages in your chat groups that I have anointed myself as the secretary-general and I have ranked up a plan and a conspiracy to remove comrade Ace Magashule,” she said.
Duarte said she would never misrepresent herself in that way.
“The comrade concerned has apologised for his mistake and the letter itself has been withdrawn. Yet, some comrades continue with mischief and with driving wedges between people. I appeal to you to stop this. I appeal to you, understand that this was a genuine error on the part of a staff member who has apologised. It was not a calculated thing to do as some suggested. That’s very insidious, please my comrades will you stop this now. Will you believe that we need to unite the ANC,” she said.