The African National Congress (ANC) is going to die if State resources continue to be used in the battle for the presidency of the party, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.
He was responding to questions by journalists during a press conference where he announced the roadmap to the party's elective conference.
Mantashe's comments come after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa claimed that allegations that he had at least eight extramarital affairs were part of a smear campaign in the presidential race.
Mantashe refused to go into detail about Ramaphosa's claims. The Sunday Independent reported on Sunday that leaked emails in its possession linked him to affairs with eight women. He has denied the claims, but admitted to having one affair that he said ended eight years ago.
He said the smear campaign was similar to tactics used towards the 2007 Polokwane conference.
"It can't be that we allow the use of state institutions to continue when we are in power," Mantashe said.
In the run-up to the 2007 elective conference, Zuma and his supporters accused then president Thabo Mbeki of using intelligence services to try and defeat him.
Zuma faced allegations of corruption following the conviction of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik for soliciting a bribe from a company involved in an arms deal with South Africa.
'This thing of listening to people is bad'
Mantashe said the ANC had no power over State institutions, but could only "appeal" to them to stop.
"The ANC has no direct authority over State institutions. When they listen to your conversations on the telephone, all we can say is 'this thing of listening to people is bad' and say to comrades who are running the State 'let's not be listened to'," Mantashe said.
Mantashe said as secretary general he did not have the power to ensure a fair contest for the party's presidency.
"It is not the individual's responsibility. It is the leadership of the ANC that will ensure that the ANC has a conference that is fair."
If it were up to him, he would order that intelligence services be closed down, which he admitted would be an "ill-informed decision".
"We are appealing to the same institution Ramaphosa is appealing to," he said.
Instead of discrediting each other and muddying each other's reputations, Mantashe said all presidential hopefuls should work on convincing delegates about their ability to lead the ANC and the country out of the current political morass.