Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he should be given a chance to implement his "New Deal" proposal.
"If we support Ramaphosa I can guarantee you we will not see a downgrade," said Gordhan.
Gordhan, who received a standing ovation when he went onto the podium at the Daily Maverick's The Gathering in Sandton, said he remained hopeful as the party prepared for its elective conference in December.
"The conference will happen and there will be a clean contest," he said.
As the country waited for another announcement from ratings agencies on Friday, Gordhan said two things could happen: "The ratings agencies could downgrade us... or they could choose to wait for the conference... This is a critical conference both for the ANC and the country."
He said he supported Ramaphosa's "New Deal", which proposed alternatives to creating meaningful jobs and improving the economy, and added that it was not similar to the DA's policies.
He was responding to DA leader Mmusi Maimane's comments made earlier when he criticised Ramaphosa and claimed that his "New Deal" was "in fact DA policy".
Gordhan said Ramaphosa's new deal proposed a change in leadership and the generation of new ideas.
"The current leadership in the country has failed us because the priority has been how to fill someone's bank account... It does not care about you."
Gordhan also poked fun at his former Cabinet colleague, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown, who on Wednesday night denied all allegations of state capture during Parliament's inquiry committee.
"We had two nights of 'I don't know', 'That transaction happened when I was sick', 'It wasn't at my house... '. You should compliment the Parliament portfolio committee for doing a great job."
He added: There is a flip side, the Hollywood, Nollywood or Bollywood performances with straight faces, no shame, no guilt, no nothing, that comes across during the hearings."
He believed the public was far more intelligent and could figure out on their own what was going on and said there had been attempts to intimidate people.
"I am talking about facts here, not fiction....Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee Ntuthuzelo Vanara had been offered a bribe, like Mcebisi Jonas (former deputy finance minister), but it was not R600m.
"To have someone bribe someone on behalf of a board member is quite a tragedy."
He criticised Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for not doing more to convince former budget head Michael Sachs not to resign from the Treasury.
"What we see in these institutions is the act of collaboration in sabotage," he said.