ANC urges members to take legal steps
Johannesburg - Legal action may be taken against the civil society leaders who questioned the moral integrity of ANC leaders and named them, the ANC said on Wednesday.
"We have advised our leaders named in today's civil society press conference to seek legal recourse," said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu in a statement.
"The ANC will give all support to these leaders as they take these legal steps because it is our firm belief that the attacks on their persons is unjustified and borders on defaming their good names."
The ruling party was reacting to comments made during a media briefing by civil society groups, the Treatment Action Campaign and Section27.
A war of words has erupted between the ANC, the Congress of SA Trade unions and civil society after the party's national working committee voiced its displeasure over a conference held last week.
The conference was co-hosted by Cosatu, the TAC and Section27 and the ANC was upset that it was not invited.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe raised caution against attempting to affect regime change. Mantashe said the ANC-government should have been invited to attend as it was criticised "in absentia" and not given the space to defend itself.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi described the ANC's reaction as "paranoid".
At a briefing, Section27 and the TAC said they would not apologise for failing to invite the ANC. Nor would the organisations need a "stamp of approval" from the ANC to organise a conference.
Section27 executive director Mark Heywood said he was surprised that the "voices of progress" were not reflected in the NWC statement.
He said the ANC's response spoke to its make-up - it included former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda, convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema - who were "people mired in allegations of corruption".
Mthembu said at no stage did the ruling party take issue with civil society, its "biggest concern" was directed at its ally, Cosatu.
"We were also equally perplexed that Cosatu being part of the liberation movement and the Alliance, found it appropriate that it could lead attacks on the liberation movement, the ANC, and our government without affording those that it attacked, its allies... at least an opportunity to respond to the criticism."
The ANC had "no intention whatsoever of apologising to anybody. In fact, we and our government deserve an apology," he said.