ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe on Tuesday called reports of his suspension "sensational". He has, however, announced that he would be taking "extended leave".
"Today I woke up to interesting and sensational media reports that quoted those who purport to be ANC NWC (national working committee) insiders who are said to have confirmed that I have been suspended as ANC national spokesperson. For the record, at the time of issuing this public statement such a matter had not been brought to my attention," Mabe said in a statement.
News24 on Tuesday reported that the ANC's NWC had decided that Mabe and acting spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, who has been in that role since last month, should "step aside" from their responsibilities of giving comment to the media.
The two have faced allegations of sexual violence, with Mabe being accused of sexual harassment by his former personal assistant Kgoerano Kekana, while a claim of rape has been levelled against Kodwa, who is also head of the ANC's office of the presidency.
"It is not in my nature to entertain slander and to borrow from the novel by the late renowned African writer Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart , things indeed seem to be falling apart with what appears to be a complete disregard [for] one's right to dignity," Mabe said in his statement.
"Last year when allegations of sexual harassment were brought against me I voluntarily, and [of] my own accord, took leave and restated at the time my position that I will never violate women in any form.
"I wish to reiterate that I respect, preserve and uphold the rights of women and have never sexually harassed anyone in my entire life," said Mabe.
Cleared of allegations
Mabe was cleared of sexual harassment charges by the party's grievance panel, City Press reported earlier this month. He was accused by his former personal assistant of three instances of sexual harassment, but the panel was reportedly not convinced by her evidence.
News24 reported last year that Mabe had requested to be placed on leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation into Kekana's allegations.
She apparently said Mabe treated her badly after she complained about his alleged advances, and that her salary was cut because of it. Mabe, in turn, said the complaint against him was motivated by the salary cut.
"I subjected myself to the process my movement, the ANC, had set up in order to establish the facts and make a determination on the matter.
"Throughout the process I had maintained my innocence and never spoke about the merits or demerits of the complaint itself. The grievance panel set up by the secretary general's office has since concluded its work. The ANC subsequently issued a statement clearing me of any acts of sexual harassment," Mabe said.
"In the intervening period, I have requested the [ANC] to allow me to extend my leave and to fully recover from the strain this whole episode has subjected me to," Mabe said.
The ANC on Tuesday called for an urgent press conference to discuss the outcomes of the NWC meeting.
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule will address the media at 13:00 on Tuesday, the party said in a statement.