CAPE TOWN, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday issued a stern warning against party members using social media to launch personal attacks and insults.
Any social media posting must be legal, ethical and respectful at all times, the ANC said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.
This came after Lindiwe Makhalema, mayor of Dihlabeng Local Municipality in Free State Province, publicly insulted President Cyril Ramaphosa on Facebook.
Makhalema, a senior ANC member, was responding to a question posed by a fellow party member in a group that only allows Facebook users who have been verified as loyal ANC members through a vetting process.
When user Aaron Ramohashi posed a question asking fellow members to name the ANC's "biggest stinking sellout" they knew, Makhamela answered with one name: "Ramaphosa."
The mayor was unapologetic even after people questioned her conduct.
The ANC "condemns in the strongest terms" insults directed at Ramaphosa by ANC leaders as well as members on social media.
"The ANC believes that it is possible to express viewpoints without resorting to personal attacks and insults," ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said.
The ANC recently adopted a social media policy which prohibits members from utilizing inflammatory language, according to Mabe.
Under the policy, all ANC structures and members will operate within the discipline and policies of the organization whilst still expressly enjoying freedom of expression, Mabe said.
"We therefore find the recent upsurge in insults towards our leadership, particularly the President, extremely disturbing and view them in serious light," Mabe said.
The use of social media platforms should at all times be in line with the ANC Constitution and Code of Conduct and seek to advance debates and discussions in a rational and responsible manner, he said.
To this end, the ANC has impressed upon local authorities to institute disciplinary processes against the instigators of disunity within the organization, without delay, Mabe said.
"This is specifically with reference to the Mayor of Dihlabeng Local Municipality who publicly insulted President Ramaphosa," said Mabe.