ANC North West Chairperson Supra Mahumapelo has warned his opponents that he will use the "might of the organisation" to deal with what he calls the "counter-revolution" that led to his resignation as premier.
He contradicted the party's deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, who said there must be no recrimination. She called on everyone in the deeply-divided province to "move forward".
Mahumapelo announced that he was taking "early retirement" as premier during a media briefing at the party's headquarters in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
It followed a heated meeting between the ANC officials and the provincial working committee on Monday. It is understood that pressure was put on Mahumapelo at that meeting to step down.
His announcement is seen as a desperate bid to save face ahead of the national executive committee meeting this weekend, where his fate was expected to decided.
However, the NEC is still expected to discuss whether he can stay on as provincial chairperson, following calls by his detractors that the provincial executive committee be disbanded.
"We will then have to use the might of the organisation to attend to this counter revolution and if I continue to stay as premier, when some of the counter-revolutionaries are embedded in a programme disguised as Revolutionary Council and so on, I will also be accused of using my position in government for self-defence," Mahumapelo said.
News24 reported in January that the Revolutionary Council had embarked on an public campaign to out Mahumapelo.
Violence erupted in the platinum-rich province last month as residents called for Mahumapelo to go. Shops were looted, and government buildings torched during the protests.
Mahumapelo said that 35 forensic investigations done by the province would also go ahead where former party leaders and administrators were expected to be the focus. President Cyril Ramaphosa has since placed the province under administration.
"We will at the right time indicate to the leadership our information with regard to the people who were behind this, that is today called the 'people's demand' in the province because, as far as we are concerned, that is nothing else but counter-revolution. And when it rears its head, revolutionaries must rise to the occasion and thwart it."
While Mahumapelo was warning his detractors, Duarte said the party leadership would plead with provincial leaders to accept the developments.
"We will encourage leadership in the North West to accept that issues have been raised. Section 100 (b) (of the Constitution) has been put in place it is time to move forward, let us please allow ourselves to move forward," she said.
Duarte and secretary general Ace Magashule played down Mahumapelo's recent comments. He had said those who called for his removal were Ramaphosa supporters who were "purging" those who backed his rival, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the December elective conference. All three led Dlamini-Zuma's failed presidential bid.
"We are talking on behalf of ANC. There is no purge. If there is a purge it won't stand the test of time. We won't allow it. The ANC is a unitary structure. That is why we appreciate that Mahumapelo appreciates that," Magashule said.
Duarte said, according to their understanding, Mahumapelo had resigned and a letter had been sent to the Speaker of the North West legislature. She said the party would now work on uniting the divided provincial executive committee (PEC).
"The PEC is an elected structure. There were many people unhappy about not being elected that is the nature of the animal. Some people win, and some people don't win. Our task is to bring them together and work collectively for the 2019 elections of the country."