African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Jackson Mthembu has come out in support of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, amid a reported sex scandal, saying the attack is political.
Ramaphosa was the subject of a Sunday Independent article published this weekend, alleging that he was involved in a number of extramarital affairs, a claim he strongly denied.
Mthembu came out in support of the ANC presidential candidate on Monday, tweeting that the article was being used as a "tool" to "stop Cyril at all costs".
"My heart goes to the wife and the family of comrade Cyril who have been subjected to so much pain by this political cannibalism. Sorry," he tweeted.
"Without prejudice, my heart also goes to the women who have been paraded on social media as having some relationship with Cyril."
Mthembu said Ramaphosa's crime was his stated commitment to saving the ANC and the government from all forms of ills, including patronage and corruption.
"@DPRamaphosa has become a serious threat to those implicated in state capture, their business friends and their families," he continued.
"[His] crime is his stated commitment to restore @MYANC back to its values as a movement that serves our people."
He had become a serious threat to those who had made the government their "spaza shop and piggy bank".
Mthembu said he would continue to support Ramaphosa as candidate for ANC president, saying no amount of sleaze and dirt thrown at him would stop his support.
"Let all @MYANC branches nominate comrade Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC President for the forthcoming National Conference. He is incorruptible!!" he said.
Ramaphosa failed, in a last-ditch court bid on Saturday, to prevent the Sunday Independent from publishing the story.
In a media statement, after it was published, Ramaphosa said he found suggestions that he had paid money to women, "with whom I was supposedly in relationships", to be "deeply disturbing".
He admitted to having had an affair with a doctor eight years ago, but said it had been dealt with between him and his wife, the Sunday Times reported.
The other two names mentioned in the report were part of doctored emails, in a campaign that "went far beyond political smear", he said.
Instead, Ramaphosa insisted, he and his wife had been financially assisting 54 students, including men and women, one of whom was mentioned in the email.
One of the two women denied the allegations, while the other did not respond to the Sunday Independent.
Sunday Independent editor Steven Motale told News24 on Sunday that the outcome of the court application was a victory for media freedom.
"He portrays himself as a paragon of moral value. He should know better," said Motale.