The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has come out in support of President Cyril Ramaphosa following a high-profile Public Protector ruling against him regarding his 2017 ANC campaign financing.
At a media briefing addressing the tenure of embattled leaders in KZN, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli reaffirmed their support for Ramaphosa, saying the "sustained public assault" was intended to weaken the party.
"The provincial executive committee (PEC) has been following developments and challenges facing the African National Congress in general, and the president of our movement in particular.
"The PEC is deeply concerned about what appears to be a sustained public assault on the name and reputation of the president which to a larger extent is intended and ultimately is directed to weakening the organisation as a whole.
"There is a clear desire to deflect the focus of the president from the historic task of leading our people towards a national democratic society which we believe that the president, working with all of us, must ensure that such an attempt is resisted and ultimately defeated," said Ntuli.
The comments can be seen as a marked departure for a province which has traditionally been a stronghold of former president Jacob Zuma, where now axed eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede was known as a strong and influential supporter of Zuma.
Ramaphosa has faced an onslaught of negative media coverage, attacks from his political opponents in the ANC and outside of it, as well as legal challenges involving Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane in recent weeks as he has sought to manage the fall-out from successive scandals involving, most notably, his ultimately successful CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency.
Ntuli said "it is perfectly obvious that what lies at the base of this offensive against the president is a clear objective to divide and ultimately displace the African National Congress as the leader of our people and the leader of our national democratic society.
"The PEC is unanimous in its firm view that the ANC president must find solace in the support of all structures and members of the ANC in KwaZulu Natal during these trying times.
"We are fully conscious of the fact that the president of the state has an obligation to uphold the Constitution of the Republic and all its laws and to act as a true representative and the leader of all South Africans.
"Of greater significance in this regard is the fact that the president has acted within the parameters of the law in dealing with the ongoing challenges which we do appreciate. The PEC calls on the National Executive Committee of our movement to remain steadfastly united in dealing with the prevailing challenges and always act in the best interests of the national democratic revolution," said Ntuli.
GET THE NEWS at your fingertips and download the News24 app for Android here now. Get it for your iPhone here.