South Africa’s ruling ANC on Monday backed President Cyril Ramaphosa after his scandal-tainted predecessor Jacob Zuma attacked him for saying the party was corrupt and called him a white stooge.
Zuma last week slammed Ramaphosa after the president penned an open letter accusing the African National Congress of rampant corruption.
Ramaphosa had said the ANC, Africa’s oldest liberation movement, must face the “stark reality” that it is the “accused number one” for corruption.
Zuma called Ramaphosa’s letter “fundamentally flawed” and a bid to please the country’s white minority.
“I implore you to take responsibility without insulting our movement and its members, who have committed no crime of corruption as they sit waiting for the ever-elusive better life for all,” said Zuma in his leaked letter.
“You write, for your own desires to plead for white validation and approval,” Zuma said.
Several ANC members are being investigated for corruption involving the procurement of coronavirus supplies in the continent’s worst-hit country.
After a weekend meeting of its top decision-making body, the party said it “endorsed” Ramaphosa’s views as a “clear articulation” of the ANC’s position.
Ramaphosa said he had not yet responded to Zuma’s letter.
“I don’t even know what the reasoning (was)… and will not even publicly entertain issues that are raised in the letter,” said Ramaphosa during an online media briefing.
The ANC said the seemingly “choreographed campaign against the president will not distract the movement from undertaking and intensifying” its fight against corruption.
“The ANC needs to draw a line in the sand between the organisation and those who steal from the people,” said the party, in a statement read out by Ramaphosa.
It ordered party members who are formally charged with corruption to “immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC, in legislatures and other government structures pending the finalisation of their cases”.
Zuma faces several graft accusations linked to his nine years in power and even before he became president.
He was forced to resign in 2018 over mounting graft scandals.