Johannesburg - Former ANC leader Mathews Phosa could find himself on the wrong side of his party as the battle between him and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza rages on.
In a joint press briefing on Monday with Phosa, his former butler Jan Venter "confessed" to lying in an affidavit claiming that the former ANC treasurer general drafted a report accusing Mabuza of being an apartheid spy.
The document reportedly stated that Mabuza participated in spying on his fellow ANC members between 1985 and 1993.
Now Venter is alleging, in a new affidavit, that he lied and that he was pressurised to make false statements about Phosa.
He also said he lied when he claimed that Phosa and ANC veteran Tokyo Sexwale were bankrolling the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Police on Tuesday said they were still busy with an investigation into the matter.
"We will be in a position to comment further during the course of next week," SA Police Service spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale told News24.
But the African National Congress has castigated Phosa for speaking out publicly about the matter.
"It is out of order and ill-disciplined for any member of the ANC to discuss such matters having been discussed and conversed within the structures of the organisation, and continues to discuss it outside the structures of the organisation," ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told News24.
He said the ANC's national leaders had been dealing with the issues in Mpumalanga and had visited the province on a number of occasions.
The allegations that Phosa had written the damning report about Mabuza were submitted to the party's national officials and was being attended to.
However, Phosa said he did not believe he had done anything wrong or gone outside the party structures.
"That matter is not being discussed internally," he told News24, referring to Venter's confession that he lied.
"The matter of Mr Mabuza asking Mr Venter to smear me is not in the ANC being discussed internally," he said.
The issue of Venter's false statement was part of the matter being heard in court.
Civil claim against Phosa
Last year, Mabuza said he was instituting a civil claim against Phosa because the former Mpumalanga premier handed the document to ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte.
Phosa said he was still going to take the new information about the falsified statement to the ANC and it was Venter who wanted to address the media.
This explanation did not satisfy the ANC, which said Phosa should have brought the new information to it before going to the media.
"If he's got new information he should have provided that information first and foremost to the organisation and not the public," Kodwa said.
Mabuza has been on sick leave since collapsing on September 8.
His sick leave was extended to September 18, but it was then announced that it had been extended indefinitely.
Despite this, Mabuza's office on Tuesday said the premier did not want to be drawn into the "domestic matter" involving Phosa and Venter.
"On the matter involving the so-called spy allegations, it remains sub judice and the Honourable Premier would like to allow the court of law to respectfully take its course," his spokesperson Zibonele Mncwango said in a statement.
"It is most unfortunate that there are attempts by Mr Phosa to bring the ANC name into disrepute on the heals of the successful National General Council. The Premier, as a responsible leader, will not draw himself into nonfactual-based matters."
Venter 'fearing for life'
Venter said he feared for his life, adding that living in Mpumalanga was dangerous.
He also claimed that he was visited by officials from the presidency on a number of occasions and was asked by them if Phosa was bankrolling the EFF.
The Presidency on Tuesday denied the claims made by Venter.
"The Presidency strongly rejects the spurious allegations made by Mr Jan Venter, a former employee of Dr Mathews Phosa, which claim that officials from the Presidency met him apparently as part of some plot to discredit Dr Phosa," spokesperson Bongani Majola said in a statement.
"The shocking allegations are untrue and malicious. The Presidency does not and cannot engage in that type of conduct and activities."
Phosa on Monday claimed that Venter was forced to say he and Sexwale were funding the EFF to create a wedge between the two and President Jacob Zuma.
"That was the whole purpose. They antagonised us against our own movement and Mabuza knew that he was lying," he said.
"Jan is saying he's distancing himself from that. He never saw me or heard me and Tokyo talk about funding the EFF."