Reports have surfaced that South Africa could have been staring down the barrel of a military coup by soldiers loyal to Jacob Zuma, just as the former president was forced to resign in February.

According to highly placed sources in the security forces who spoke to City press on condition of anonymity, military intelligence became aware of soldiers who were former members of the ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), who were planning to revolt because of their loyalty to Zuma.

Cyril Ramaphosa was advised to quell the rebellion because it was likely to cause massive instability in the country if it was allowed to continue. According to the report, the military’s top brass was worried that Zuma’s popularity among his former MK comrades was fuelling sympathy in the armed forces for his plight.

Senior military personnel have dismissed these claims, insisting that the armed forces remain loyal to the Constitution and that a mutiny caused by ‘petty party politics’ would not be tolerated.

However, insiders who spoke to City Press say there are elements within the ANC’s ranks who are trying to advance their own interests by using the military as a proxy in political battles.

“Remember, Cyril is just a civilian, so the military would not recognise him in the same way as Zuma,” a close aide told City Press. “So it was agreed that Zuma would resign so that it could send a message to the army, as well as amabutho [Zulu army] in KwaZulu-Natal, that there was no need for a revolt. But amabutho were still willing to fight.”