Rebels in South Sudan have claimed that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is "taking bribes" from President Salva Kiir's government to block their leader Riek Machar - currently in South Africa - from returning home.
Deputy military spokesperson for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLMLO), Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel told News24 this week that Ramaphosa was being used to facilitate Machar's "continued detention" in South Africa.
"Our leader wants to come back but the vice president of South Africa where he is currently being detained is taking bribes from the South Sudan government to block his return. We want him to return to the country and help it and its people find peace," said Gabriel.
But Ramophosa's spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa dismissed the claims as a violation of the vice president's dignity.
Mamoepa said that the South Sudan conflict was due to internal fighting within the SPLM.
'Demeaning and humiliating'
"We reject the suggestions. They are demeaning and humiliating on the character of vice president Ramaphosa. It is our considered view that the genesis of the conflict in South Sudan is due to the division within the ruling SPLM. It is therefore our view that to find a solution, the parties involved must have dialogue.
"Deputy president Ramaphosa was tasked by President Jacob Zuma to find solutions to the continued unrest in that country," Mamoepa said.
Machar, according to reports, arrived in South Africa late last year without Pretoria's knowledge after fleeing the capital Juba, claiming that President Kiir wanted to assassinate him.
The conflict in South Sudan has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced more than two million people. The country became Africa's youngest nation in 2011 after the end of a 21 year war with its neighbour Sudan for independence.
Machar, the reports said, was being held "basically under house arrest" near Pretoria, with his movements "restricted and phone calls monitored and controlled".
"If he wants to go to the toilet, he has to hand over his phone and a guy stands outside the cubicle," an unnamed source was quoted as saying at the time.
Unilateral cease fire
But the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) denied the detention claims, saying that it was "concerned" by the reports.
President Kiir declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday as he launched a national dialogue that excluded Machar - in a controversial bid to end a civil war.
This was not the first time that Kiir vowed the army would lay down arms in the east African country's three-year conflict. He warned that his troops would defend themselves if attacked.
"I am also once again declaring a unilateral ceasefire effective from today, so that we can create an environment for an inclusive dialogue and so that we can transport humanitarian aid to famine struck areas," Kiir was quoted as saying.
Gabriel, however, said that Kiir's forces had already undermined the recently announced cease fire declaration.
He said that the government troops recently attacked an SPLM base in Juba where they injured a dozen of rebel fighters.
"The government forces have already broken the cease fire declaration as they have attacked a number of our camps in Juba and across the country. This leaves us with no choice but to fight and defend ourselves.
'The dialogue is only a smokescreen'
"The Kiir government sold the international community a dummy when it announced a ceasefire. They are not going to stop killing our people, they are corrupt, and they are creating chaos in the country in order to continue looting. Therefore, that ceasefire is just a waste of time," said Gabriel.
Gabriela also vehemently declared that the recently announced dialogue was not going to be successful without its leader Machar.
He said that the dialogue was only a smokescreen meant to put the blame on those who were against Kiir.
He said that this was also going to mislead the international community which had been pressuring Juba to end the violence.
"The dialogue is one sided since Machar is not part of it. We are, therefore, not going to participate in it without him. Machar is not a violent man as President Kiir seeks to portray him. He is the man of the people.
"Kiir knows that when he [Machar] gets back to the country he would simple put an end to his looting. Once he gets back, we will defend him with everything that we have, even if it means that the fighting continues forever," added Gabriel.