Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign has hit back against claims that white people are running the deputy president's campaign to become president of the ANC in December, Daily Maverick reported.
On Sunday, the Sunday Times reported that racial tension behind the scenes of Ramaphosa's campaign threatened to derail his efforts. White people running the campaign were reported to be acting as "gatekeepers", leading others to threaten to resign.
On Wednesday, Ramaphosa's camp responded, calling the allegations racist.
His campaign-coordinator, James Motlatsi and campaign manager, Bejani Chauke, said the claims were designed to undermine Ramaphosa's efforts.
"Claims that the campaign is run by whites are not only untrue and inherently racist, but they diminish the contribution that those individuals involved in the campaign have made over many years to the struggle for a free and democratic South Africa," they reportedly said.
The campaign said it was concerned about how race was being used as a "political weapon" in the leaderhsip race.
"The claims made in the article appear to be part of a narrative perpetuated by those opposed to Cyril Ramaphosa's candidacy about his supposed 'closeness' to whites. Ramaphosa's record in the ANC, government and business underscores his unwavering commitment to non-racialism and to the empowerment of black and women South Africans," they said.
"The campaign is concerned about how race is being increasingly used as a political weapon to undermine the integrity of comrades."
Analyst Aubrey Matshiqi told Daily Maverick that Ramaphosa's campaign was likely to face attempts to paint him as a "house negro", given the "both genuine and dishonest" concerns about his proximity to whites, business, and the markets.