The African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday said the leaked emails targeting President Cyril Ramaphosa were aimed at derailing the nation’s attention from challenges facing the country, including the economic crisis.

The governing party came to its president’s defence over the saga, saying the reports were meant to undermine him

News24 reported at the weekend on the emails, which showed that Ramaphosa was in contact with funders for his 2017 ANC presidential campaign despite earlier assertions that he knew nothing.

In a statement, the ANC said it was not aware of any illegal actions during the president’s campaign or that of other candidates who contested for positions at its Nasrec conference.

The ANC said the leaked emails were an attempt to undermine public confidence in Ramaphosa, saying that his leadership had been defined by moral and ethical conduct.

The leaked emails showed that Ramaphosa was integral to fundraising efforts for his campaign, although he told Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane that he had been kept in the dark.

On Tuesday, the Presidency backtracked on the submission to the Public Protector, saying he had limited knowledge of the funding processes. It is not illegal for candidates to be involved in fundraising for their campaign.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party had already started a process to look into its campaigning methods.