Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus was representing "his own jacket" when he apologised on behalf of the ANC, the party's head of elections Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday.
Niehaus had taken to the stage at a special imbizo on land, called by King Goodwill Zwelithini to discuss proposals to dissolve the Ingonyama Trust. King Zwelithini is the sole trustee of the land that is divided according to clans and is overseen by traditional leaders.
Niehaus claimed he was speaking as an ANC member. He slammed the recommendations by former president Kgalema Motlanthe's parliamentary high-level panel that the act that formed the Trust, enacted just days before the 1994 elections, be repealed.
He said Motlanthe's "attack on traditional leaders was entirely unjustified".
Motlanthe has been criticised by traditional leaders including the King for saying that they behaved like "tin-pot dictators" over their subjects because of the power they hold over land.
But Mbalula bashed Niehaus during a media briefing at the party's headquarters in Johannesburg on Thursday.
He distanced the ANC from Niehaus' apology.
Mbalula also said the party would deal with the matter.
"If there is any apology, the ANC leadership will process that and it will speak for itself," Mbalula said.
Mbalula added that "elders in the party" were looking into Motlanthe's comments made at the ANC's land summit in May.
He said the ANC officials also wanted to meet with King Zwelithini as the ANC's views were being misconstrued to be anti the king and the Zulu nation.