The ANC Women's League has defended its decision to back Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its preferred candidate for the next ANC president.
This comes after African National Congress national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa called the move premature, divisive and defiant of the party's national executive committee, which had called on structures to discuss the qualities of leaders, rather than their of names.
"It undermines the very same efforts of fostering unity in the ANC, as it is against the decisions taken by the NEC that all its structures, including leagues, must desist from discussing leadership of the ANC," said Kodwa on Monday.
The Women's League hit back on Tuesday, insisting that pronouncing on its preferred candidates could not be interpreted as ill-discipline.
"The ANCWL will not be persuaded to stop its decision to call for members of the ANC to elect its first ever woman as president in December 2017," it said in a statement.
The decision to release names for top posts was done in true pursuance of the ANC's policy of equality and non-sexism, it said.
The league, which held its own NEC meeting on the first weekend of 2017, resolved to lobby for Dlamini-Zuma to become the next president of the ANC.
It has also backed Baleka Mbete, Jessie Duarte, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Lindiwe Sisulu, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Nomvula Mokonyane for five of the top six positions in the party.
The league has often been grouped with structures in the party aligned with President Jacob Zuma. It is readying itself for a showdown with those who want Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over from Zuma.
Ramaphosa already has tripartite alliance member Cosatu's endorsement.
Supporters have also been divided on the way forward for the party, as far as the leadership discussion is concerned. News24 spoke to some who attended the ANC January 8 celebrations on Sunday, here's what they had to say:
The league said it would also clarify its decision to publicly pronounce on the succession debate before the ANC NEC and would not engage with it on public platforms.
Unity and integrity of ANC is sacrosanct and is high on the agenda of the ANCWL, it said.