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Winnie Mandela resigned all her posts in the African National Congress Thursday after reports about her involvement with a younger man and alleged misuse of ANC welfare funds.

Saying she was the victim of enemies inside and outside the organization her estranged husband heads, Mandela asserted that she had been forced to step down by vicious gossip. She denied she had done anything wrong."The intensity and viciousness of these attacks have deeply hurt my daughters, those of my grandchildren old enough to understand, my husband, our relatives and many of our friends," she said in a statement.

Winnie Mandela's political career has been waning since her 1991 conviction on kidnapping and assault charges, and her separation from Nelson Mandela earlier this year amid a barrage of reports about alleged misconduct.

Mrs. Mandela's resignation came after South African newspapers on Sunday printed a letter allegedly written by her to Dali Mpofu saying she feared an ANC investigation into misuse of party funds.

Local media have long linked Mrs. Mandela, 58, romantically to Mpofu, 30. She and Mpofu have denied having an affair.