South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who is vying to replace President Jacob Zuma has admitted to an extramarital affair but lambasted as “political smear” its revelation in newspapers, media reported Sunday.
Details of his alleged affairs with as many as eight women were splashed on Sunday newspapers, after the business man turned politician failed to gag media from publishing the story in a late night urgent court application.
He denied cheating with eight women but admitted to having one affair.
“I had a relationship with only one person and it ended. I dealt with it with my wife. We now have a professional relationship,” Ramaphosa told Sunday Times.
The 64-year-old Ramaphosa and Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have come out as front runners to replace Zuma when he steps down as ANC president in December.
The leader of the ANC becomes an automatic candidate for president of the country.
Ramaphosa said the report which is based on leaked email correspondence between himself and the women was a “smear campaign” ahead of the crucial elective conference.
“I have to be prevented at all costs from ascending to the position of president of the ANC. Some have even said it will over their dead bodies,” Ramaphosa told Sunday Times.
“I have not committed any crimes, I have not stolen any money, I have not looted state resources. But I am being targeted and smeared,” he said.
He stated that the relationship with the woman who was his medical doctor ended eight years ago.
Pictures of several women purported to be some of his girlfriends had been circulating on social media since Saturday, with the public rebuking his conduct.
But the leader received unlikely support from Julius Malema, the radical leader of Economic Freedom Fighters who was expelled from the ANC in 2012
Malema tweeted: “Ramaphosa, his wife & supporters will have to be extremely strong especially as they move close to the conference, dirty truck on steroids.”
It was still early to determine how much impact the scandal would impact his ANC leadership bid.
On Saturday afternoon, Ramaphosa released a lengthy statement after a list of media questions sent to him on the story were leaked on social media.
“This latest episode extends far beyond an attempt at political smear,” he said.
Ramaphosa is the latest high ranking South African politicians to be implicated in a sex scandal. President Zuma was himself in 2005 tried and later acquitted for rape of a 31-year-old daughter of a friend.
Several other ministers in Zuma’s cabinet have had sex scandals but never resigned from their jobs.