Presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's backers have labelled reported links between her and alleged illicit flows of funds by the Gupta family as a "clear" attempt to block her from ascending to the party's top post.
Dlamini-Zuma was flagged, along with 27 other people, as individuals that UK financial institutions should review as possibly being involved in criminal financial activities.
She was mentioned in a letter written by Lord Peter Hain to UK authorities, claiming that London-based banks may have handled illicit funds linked to President Jacob Zuma, his family and the Guptas.
uMkontho we Sizwe Military Veterans Association leader Kebby Maphatsoe, who was amongst the leaders who flanked Dlamini-Zuma during her presidential campaign rally in Everton in the Vaal on Sunday, said the probe was a case of foreign intelligence services interfering in the ANC succession debate.
"They are interfering in internal affairs of the ANC, to determine who is the next president of the ANC, because they don't like Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma talking about radical economic transformation," Maphatsoe said.
'I don't think we will be fooled'
He said that those who were failing to stop Dlamini-Zuma winning at the ANC's December elective conference were now launching the campaign outside of the country.
"We talked about regime change, people did not believe... now it is happening... we see it as interference of internal affairs of ANC," he said.
Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule said South Africans were not stupid and could see that it was a "clear" attempt to block her.
"Why, now that Nkosazana is contesting the leadership of ANC. I don't think we will be fooled.
"At all times, people have been blamed, attacked and tarnished. I think it is for NDZ to stay focused," Magashule said.
Dlamini-Zuma has denied the alleged links. The former African Union chairperson released a statement on Friday in which she claimed that she was unaware of Hain's letter. "For the record, Dr Dlamini Zuma has no links with any of the Gupta associated businesses, except for the finances received for the South African Person of the Year Award which she received, like many other prominent South Africans," the statement said.
'I don't know what they want'
On Sunday, she refused to comment, except to say: "They have not asked me anything, so I don't know what they want. They have not approached me," she told News24 on the sidelines of the rally.
Other leaders backing Dlamini-Zuma who attended the rally were Youth League president Collen Maine, NEC members Pule Mabe and Obed Bapela, and MP Humphrey Memeza.
Maine suggested that Dlamini-Zuma's presidency would not have international support. He said the country would most likely be downgraded to junk status again if she won the December elective conference.
"They have an interest in South Africa, they want to tell us who must lead us... we must refuse. Let's accept that we will be placed under further junk status, but we will rise, we will defeat their agenda again," he said.
Dlamini-Zuma was campaigning in the province after the provincial executive committee endorsed her rival Cyril Ramaphosa to replace Zuma in December.