Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe may have to make the crucial decision in the coming weeks on whether to challenge President Jacob Zuma for the top position in the ANC.
His name has appeared on lists discussed by both the anyone-but-Zuma and the pro-Zuma factions of the party.
A meeting of the pro-Zuma faction in Umhlanga Ridge, KwaZulu-Natal, last week discussed potential candidates for the top six party positions.
An NEC member said the six named were Jacob Zuma as party president, Kgalema Motlanthe as deputy president, Baleka Mbete as chairwoman, Gwede Mantashe as secretary-general, Jesse Duarte as deputy secretary-general and Naledi Pandor as treasurer-general.
Cyril Ramaphosa has been touted as a possible replacement for Motlanthe if the anyone-but-Zuma group convinces him to run against Zuma.
A move against Zuma could be career suicide for Motlanthe. Should he lose in Mangaung he will be out of a job in the ANC.
Though he would remain the country's deputy president, he would automatically lose this position after the national elections.
ANC members from all the provinces except the Western Cape attended the KwaZulu-Natal meeting.
The Western Cape is said to be deeply divided in its support for a Zuma second term.
An Eastern Cape representative said though leaders from Gauteng did not attend the meeting, members from the province's youth league leadership were there.
An SMS that made the rounds at the weekend had Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu, National Planning Commission Minister Trevor Manuel and Zuma's right-hand man, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, as possible candidates in the top six.
Another regional leader said there was a "compromise" line-up that would include Fikile Mbalula as deputy secretary-general, Manuel as treasurer and Sisulu as chairwoman.
As it stands, Zuma's second-bid strongholds are KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Mpumalanga. Last week The Times reported on a meeting of the anyone-but-Zuma group at which Motlanthe emerged as a possible candidate to contest Zuma.
Prominent leaders from all over the country attended, including the leadership of the ANC Youth League.
Tokyo Sexwale will stand for deputy president against Ramaphosa if Motlanthe accepts the nomination.
Though KwaZulu-Natal is Zuma's stronghold, prominent names from the province were raised as possible top six members.
Both the pro- and anti-Zuma groups have Mantashe as secretary-general.
One provincial leader said Mantashe might emerge as kingmaker in Mangaung, depending on which side he chooses.
THE ZUMA LINE-UP
- Jacob Zuma as president
- Kgalema Motlanthe, deputy president
- Baleka Mbete, party chairman
- Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general
- Jesse Duarte, deputy secretary-general
- Naledi Pandor, treasurer-general Other options: Cyril Ramaphosa has been touted as a replacement for Motlanthe if the ABZ group persuades Motlanthe to run against Zuma
- Kgalema Motlanthe as president
- Also likely to be in the top six:
- Fikile Mbalula
- Paul Mashatile
- Tokyo Sexwale
- Lindiwe Sisulu
- Trevor Manuel, and
- Ngoako Ramatlhodi