Justice Minister and the African National Congress' (ANC's) head of policy Jeff Radebe on Monday distanced himself from an alleged plot to oust President Jacob Zuma at the ANC's 2012 elective conference.
"I am neither aware of any such plot nor do I know of any group whose mission it is to work towards ousting President Zuma at the next ANC Conference," Radebe said in a statement issued by his spokesperson Tlali Tlali.
"I consider these allegations spurious and malicious."
This followed a report by the Sunday Independent which named Radebe among alleged conspirators plotting Zuma's removal as president of the ANC.
The report said a 22-page document allegedly emanating from an intelligence probe into national police commissioner General Bheki Cele details the conspiracy to oust Zuma.
It was reportedly said in the document that Cele, a known Zuma supporter, had "ditched" the president in favour of Human Settlements Minister and ANC national executive committee member, Tokyo Sexwale.
The paper reported that the arrest of Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdludli had "lifted the lid on a ferocious political tug-of-war raging in the ANC" ahead of the 2012 conference.
The Mail & Guardian on Friday reported that Mdludli had obtained a "secret intelligence report detailing extensive allegations of corruption against Cele".
The document read that a group of "anti-Zuma" members, called the "Mvela Group", met in Estcourt on January 23 where they allegedly plotted Zuma's ousting. It said, a few days thereafter, revelations appeared in the media that Zuma had fathered a child out of wedlock with daughter of soccer boss Irvin Khoza, Sonono.
Radebe said he had never been to a meeting "secret or not" in Estcourt.
The report said Sexwale led a group of ANC leaders, including Radebe, who wanted to prevent Zuma from serving a second term at the helm of the ruling party.
Other ANC leaders included KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, ANC NEC member and former ANCYL president Fikile Mbalula, Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale, ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile, ANC deputy secretary general Thandi Modise, and NEC members David Mabuza, Enoch Gondongwana and Tony Yengeni.
Radebe said he found it "appalling" that he was associated with the plot.
"My spokesperson Tlali Tlali, received a telephone call on Saturday evening at approximately 11.20pm from the newspaper which covered the story next day (Sunday). This created an impression that effort was made by the newspaper to solicit my views when it was for all practical purposes clear that any comment I made would not be reflected in the story," he said.
The Sunday Independent reported that ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza would not confirm or deny the allegations in the report, saying the ANC did not have the facts about the covert operation.