Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was told to start "talking straight" and declare his ambitions to take over from Jacob Zuma.
It came as he visited the home of the Prophet of Mduduzi‚ "Unyazilwezulu" Shembe of the Shembe Church in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday to pray for the ANC, which he admitted was "going through a tough time" and "languishing" under a dark cloud.
"We are asking all churches to pray for the ANC and government and its leaders because we are going through a tough time," Ramaphosa told media.
In his address, Ramaphosa said he did not come to the church to ask for their blessings to back his presidential bid, reported Times Live.
He referred to the May Day rallies, when President Jacob Zuma and ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete were booed and prevented from making speeches. This forced the federation to end its main Worker's Day celebrations in Bloemfontein and cancel all speeches.
Times Live reported:
"Some of you might have seen on TV yesterday when the president was prevented from speaking ... something shows you that things are not right in the party and government. We ask for your prayers because you are able to pray. Please pray for us. I didn't come here for anything else or position. I came here for two things: that is to learn about Inkosi Shembe and to ask for you to pray for the ANC and the government."
Ramaphosa was confronted by pastors‚ including senior pastor Mthandeni Ntombela.
"You must talk straight and tell inkosi you are here to ask for the position of the president of the ANC‚" he [Ntombela] said.
"Don't beat about the bush because [President Jacob] Zuma also came here and asked to be made president and for his criminal cases to go away. You were elected deputy president and you should be one‚" said Ntombela. "You will be the [ANC] president whether they like it or not. This is your ANC."
It comes as Cosatu secretary general Bheki Ntshalintshali said for the second time that he would support Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in the upcoming ANC elections.
He spoke out at the May Day rallies and once again endorsed Ramaphosa as the preferred candidate to take over from Zuma.