The ANC's national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Cape Town has been deliberating on whether to hold early elections, sources have told News24.
According to the sources, some within the party's highest decision making body want the ANC to call for an early election, convinced the party would win. The argument is based on perceptions that the opposition is in disarray. They also want to capitalise on the so called "Ramaphoria" sentiment gripping parts of the country.
The NEC discussed the contentious issue on Saturday, while debating President Cyril Ramaphosa's political report that was presented on Friday.
Sources told News24 that speakers were divided over whether an early elections could guarantee the ANC a decisive victory given the loss of confidence over the past decade under former president Jacob Zuma's tumultuous government.
The ANC has been on an electoral decline since the 2009 elections under Zuma, who inherited a party that had garnered a two thirds majority led by former president Thabo Mbeki in 2004.
The next elections are due to be held between May and August 2019.
"There were some who were saying it's important to capture the positive mood in the country since Cyril Ramaphosa's election," said an NEC member who did not want to be named.
Ramaphosa has been on a clean up campaign, since he led talks to force a reluctant Zuma to resign. He reshuffled his Cabinet, ridding it of ministers seen to be linked to Zuma and regarded as incompetent, and perceived to be implicated in various corruption scandals.
This week he suspended SA Revenue Service boss Tom Moyane, saying he had lost confidence in him to continue collecting much-needed tax amidst a R50bn collection shortfall.
Another NEC member said the party still had a lot of work to do to convince the public that it had changed.
A lack of confidence
"People still need to regain [our] confidence, some are still not convinced that we will get rid of corruption, rebuild the economy and deliver on services, he said.
One NEC member referred to the recent horrific death of 5-year-old Lumka Mketwa, who drowned in a pit latrine at her school in the Eastern Cape.
Another NEC member was concerned that the party was not ready for elections, citing it's internal turmoil with at least five provinces still due to hold provincial elections. At least two are being led by disputed interim structures.
The ANC has previously shot down calls by the opposition Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters for Parliament to be dissolved and for the country to hold an early election.
Other NEC members raised concerns that the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) would not be ready to manage and administer an election. The IEC still has to finalise the voter register and ensure all addresses for voters are captured as directed by a 2016 Constitutional court ruling.
A renewed ANC
"I am not convinced that we must go for an early elections as the ANC itself needs to be renewed", an NEC member said.
"In some areas you need to remove the current leaders first because they have closed the organisation. You can't have these narrow cliques leading", he continued.
The party was due to discuss troubled provinces, with Ramaphosa said to have called for provincial party leadership elections to be held after June when a new digital membership system is introduced.
However, some of the party leaders who were linked to the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma presidential race want ANC provincial elections to be held by May.
Sources said Sbu Ndebele's report into the Eastern Cape conference, known as the so called "festival of chairs" after violence broke out, is yet to be tabled.
The party is already gearing up for the anticipated 2019 national election campaign, having appointed former police minister and NEC member Fikile Mbalula as its head of elections, and having recently held an election workshop.
No final resolution was taken by Saturday evening, with the NEC meeting expected to end on Sunday.
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule is due to hold a briefing on the outcome once the meeting is over.