Johannesburg - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says the ANC will be in a crisis if President Jacob Zuma does not hand over the leadership reins to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mantashe was weighing in on the party's leadership race ahead of its elective conference in December.
This could be seen as Mantashe's possible endorsement of Ramaphosa.
He said if a deputy president of the ANC could not take over from the current leader, then the party was owed an explanation.
He alluded to the fact that Zuma should help support the election of Ramaphosa to replace him instead of his current support for former African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
If Pres Zuma, with experience, refuses to handover to DP, we will be in a crisis. Let us find a woman to be DP, for succession to be managed
There's a theory of a woman President. That's strange. We want a President of the ANC, male or female. #ORTambo
He stressed the need for the succession debate to be managed well or it could spell a disaster for the party.
"If President Zuma, with experience refuses to handover to the DP, we will be a crisis. Let us find a woman to be DP (deputy president), for succession to be managed," said Mantashe.
"I put this as an idea, I said branches must debate this idea. In the interests of the ANC, succession must be managed," he said.
Although Ramaphosa and Dlamini Zuma are seen as front-runners ahead of the conference, there are about seven members who have also thrown their names in the hat. They include Lindiwe Sisulu, Zweli Mkhize, who is seen by some as a possible option for a unity ticket and Mathews Phosa.
Others who's campaigns have gotten off to a slow start include Jeff Radebe and possibly Baleka Mbete.
Mantashe also said he found the growing debate about a women president strange and asked why the leadership race debate was being gendered.