Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has decried news reports about his purported allegiance to certain factions within the ANC.
"[These have] exposed the desperation of political thugs and their consorts who have elected to subject me to political lynching," he said in a statement on Monday.
"Through the media they have decided to defame me through political looting and vandalism, when they cannot face me and engage me as a comrade."
The Sunday Independent reported Mbalula would support President Jacob Zuma for a second term as ANC leader, and not Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
According to the report, this was because Mbalula had been dropped from the Gauteng ANC leadership's list of candidates to be nominated.
Mbalula reportedly had a meeting with Zuma this week but refused to confirm if it took place.
The ANC Youth League and the ANC in Limpopo have nominated Mbalula, a former youth league leader, for the post of ANC secretary general.
The ANC is holding its elective conference in Mangaung in December.
Mbalula said those who had "uncontrollable ambitions to ascend to leadership by hook or by crook" would not hesitate to play dirty tricks.
"These include leaking of my routine meetings with the president and speculation on the contents of those meetings."
Mbalula said he had never been party to any deal-making or arranging of leadership for Mangaung.
He criticised former presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa and businessperson Sello Rasethaba, who were quoted as saying he was amenable to their proposals to ditch his ambitions to replace Mantashe.
The Sowetan reported on Monday that Kodwa had been quoted as saying he and Rasethaba were trying to make Mbalula understand that "he can't be part of a coalition that can't be defined politically".
"There has to be a generational mix, but the generation of 1942 can't be forced out."
Mbalula said he did not need "spokespersons, nor self-styled messiahs", such as Kodwa and Rasethaba, to speak on his behalf or mete out unwanted counsel.
"When the moment arises, I will not hesitate to speak for myself. Throughout my life I have never succumbed to political blackmail and will not live in fear of the unknown," he said.
The youth league said on Monday that attempts to discredit Mbalula would not succeed.
"The ANC Youth League has noted and harshly condemns the dirty and malicious attempts ... to discredit and decampaign [sic] comrade Fikile Mbalula," it said in a statement.
"It is the second instance… where false and misleading information is deliberately published about comrade Mbalula and his pending election as secretary general."
The youth league expressed concern about a report in the Star newspaper earlier this month headlined "ANCYL drops Mbalula".
"We reiterate our support for comrade Fikile Mbalula, it is precisely because of his fearlessness as a leader that media shall connive with unknown forces to isolate him from members of the ANC who have declared their support for him ... This attempt will never succeed," it said. – Sapa