The ANC warned members on Monday against “engaging in factional activity” following a meeting between treasurer general Mathews Phosa and former chairman Mosiuoa Lekota (picture).

“Whatever grievances or concerns any ANC members may have, that does not give them a licence to defy decisions of ANC structures, to destabilise the organisation, or to engage in factional activity,” said ANC spokeswoman Jessie Duarte.

Lekota is speculated to announce the launch of a new political party soon. Duarte said the ANC “respected the right of any person to form a political party”.

“The ANC also reiterates the fundamental principle of the organisation that all members have voluntarily undertaken to respect its decisions, internal processes and democratically elected structures.”

She said Phosa and Lekota, the former minister of defence, held a meeting on Monday morning to discuss the concerns Lekota raised in an open letter to the ANC leadership two weeks ago.

“The treasurer general went through the open letter sent by Lekota to the ANC secretary general, and explained the ANC’s position on each of the matters raised in the letter,” said Duarte.

“Lekota indicated that he still wants a response to his open letter in writing. The ANC has undertaken to provide Lekota with such a reply.”

Duarte said Phosa and Lekota “further discussed some of the organisational challenges that the organisation has worked to address since the ANC’s Polokwane conference”.

The ANC reiterated its commitment to “defend and safeguard the Constitution, including the right of freedom of association”, added Duarte.

Lekota sharply criticised the new ANC leadership in an open letter to secretary general Gwede Mantashe two weeks ago. He accused the leaders of steering the organisation “away from the established policy priorities and customary democratic norms of the ANC”.

Lekota last week announced that he was serving “divorce papers” on the ANC, but Phosa responded by saying the “marriage” could still be saved. Lekota’s letter and announcement last week were seen as further indication of an impending split in the ruling party, on the heels of its recall of former president Thabo Mbeki and a swathe of resignations, including those of Cabinet members and Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, a member of the NEC, responded in his own open letter, saying: “Put bluntly, you and those who share your views are giving notice to leave the ANC.”

Lekota had claimed that ANC members who expressed views contrary to popular opinion were later “hounded out” and “purged” from organisational and state structures. Newspapers on Monday morning suggested that Shilowa was set to join Lekota in a new party.