The ANC was yesterday still to consider a proposal by former ANC Women's League president Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to broker a deal that would allow President Thabo Mbeki to continue leading the ruling party.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the struggle veteran known as The Mother of the Nation would urge Mbeki and his rival, Jacob Zuma, to set aside their leadership bids for the sake of party unity.
Madikizela-Mandela proposes that the two remain in their current ANC posts - Mbeki as president and Zuma as deputy president - after the party's national conference and agree to step down within five years, according to the paper.
"Both should commit to hand over the reins in time and to facilitate a change of guard in the next five years to the next generation of leaders - of which the ANC is not short," the Sunday Times quoted Madikizela-Mandela.
Yesterday neither ANC secretary Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC head of presidency Smuts Ngonyama and ANC media liaison officer Tiyani Rikhotso were available.
Approached for comment on the matter Zuma's secretary Nontokozo Luthuli said the matter was not discussed.
However, a very senior Zuma loyalist yesterday described the move as "an attempt by Madikizela-Mandela to sneak in Mbeki through the back door".
Another Zuma loyalist described the move as an attempt by Madikizela-Mandela to appease Mbeki "because she still wants him to pardon her for her criminal convictions".
The loyalist pointed out that Madikizela-Mandela had previously approached Mbeki for pardon and that he was considering it.