Former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe has rubbished claims that he is interested in taking over from President Jacob Zuma.
"Personally I am not keen to stand again as president. I think it is a bad idea to recycle leaders," Motlanthe said.
In an interview with Power FM, Motlanthe said he believed he would make a better contribution providing political education.
"They mustn't even think about it, it's a bad idea."
The ANC will hold its 54th national elective conference in December.
Although Motlanthe said he wouldn't completely dismiss those asking him to stand, he said he would seek to make them understand why it was important to make way for new leadership.
According to reports Motlanthe, who served as interim president after the ANC recalled former president Thabo Mbeki, is being suggested as a possible compromise candidate to take over from Zuma in December in order to heal the rift that has developed between warring factions and unite the 105-year-old liberation movement.
Discussing the Mangaung national conference, where he lost out to Zuma, Motlanthe said he knew he would lose.
"Did I know I would lose? Yes, but I needed to respect the fact that branches nominated me. I do not support arrangements," he said.
Although he refused to share his views on who he would like to see taking the party forward, he emphasised the importance of strong branches.
"If you take away the power of the branches to nominate, that is corruption."
Motlanthe, who was the secretary general of the party when Mbeki was ousted, has been accused by some of failing to handle the fractures in the movement properly at the time and giving South Africa President Jacob Zuma.
Motlanthe defended himself from this view, explaining that those who felt he had failed in his role did not read through his 2007 organisational report and didn't understand the situation as it was at the time.
Motlanthe, who is often lauded for his thorough knowledge of the ANC, said if a consultative conference was to take place, it would have to be convened by current leaders.
Current secretary general of the ANC Gwede Mantashe has said the ANC's national executive committee members were in agreement with its veterans, who had called for a consultative conference.
The party wants to combine it with its policy conference in June, while the stalwarts want it held separately.
"They [current leaders] must accept and be convinced that indeed there is a crisis that warrants the convening of such a conference," Motlanthe said.
He said as soon as a policy conference convenes, the current leaders must step down so matters concerning the party can be discussed by members as equals to diagnose the problems and to seek practical solutions.