ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is dragging Buyisile Ngqulwana to court over claims he was one of the people behind the establishment of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) in a bid to destabilise the ANC.
The ATM was one of the many small parties that emerged in the lead-up to the 2019 general elections, with some in and out of the ANC claiming they were set up to split the vote and dramatically reduce the governing party's results.
Ngqulwana, the secretary-general of the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ, while having dropped a legal bid to have the ATM removed from the ballot paper, has continued to claim the party was the brainchild of former president Jacob Zuma and Magashule.
He even insisted Magashule was responsible for the M in ATM's name.
But Magashule hit back, suing Ngqulwana for defamation and seeking R500 000 in damages.
"The purpose I am bringing this application is to vindicate my reputation. To this end, I seek various orders aimed at vindicating my character and putting an end to the ongoing and unlawful of the allegations in the statement and compensating me for the harm I have suffered," said Magashule in the founding affidavit, in which Ngqulwana, the ATM and the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ are cited as respondents.
In the court papers, which News24 has seen, Magashule explained he was seeking an order declaring statements made by Ngqulwana against him were "defamatory", "false" and "unlawful".
Magashule also confirmed News24's story that he faced an investigation within the party over the claims.
Magashule wants Ngqulwana's statements retracted, an apology and an interdict to stop the religious figure from making any further "defamatory" statements that create an impression Magashule was involved in the ATM's formation.
"The first time I heard of him [Ngqulwana] was when the media reported about my alleged involvement," claimed Magashule.
He also cited ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula as having distanced the party from the claims made by Ngqulwana.
"There is absolutely no evidence, not a shred that proves the veracity of Ngqulwana's claim. It's plainly false," said Magashule.
Ngqulwana told News24 he was busy drafting his responses and would oppose Magashule's bid.
"I am not shaken, there is nothing wrong that I said. Everyone is free to say whatever they want to say. No one can be intimidated," he told News24.
"I stand by my affidavit ... we will meet Ace in court," he concluded.