The office of ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga welcomed President Jacob Zuma's decision to not publicly debate with DA leader Helen Zille on the state of the economy.
"Perhaps Zille can explain to the public how affording her an opportunity for a grandstanding spectacle will bring the much-needed solution to the current challenges that the nation faces," his office said in a statement on Tuesday.
"No right-thinking president will be preoccupied with feeding the delusion of grandeur of one individual at the expense of finding an urgent... solution to the serious challenges facing millions of people."
On Monday, the Democratic Alliance leader said she would write to Zuma to call for a debate.
"All South Africans are presently deeply concerned about the state of our country, and particularly our economy," she said in a statement.
Zille said Zuma had not proved himself worthy of leading the country in the wake of escalating labour protests and the downgrading of the country's credit rating.
Motshekga's office said if Zille was serious, she should address her "yet-to-be-written letter" to African National Congress Western Cape chairman, Marius Fransman.
"This will give her a good opportunity to outline her vision and plans for the Western Cape."
It said Zille missed the "perfect opportunity" to do so at the party's provincial conference at the weekend.
"In the eight-page speech delivered to the congress, Zille mentioned the 'ANC' and 'ANCYL' 24 times while only mentioning the 'DA' six times," it said.
"A leader of opposition, who is trapped in oppositionist (sic) politics... cannot be in a position to offer sound economic advice on the complex challenges facing the country and its people."
The presidency said on Monday that Zuma had declined Zille's request.
"The presidency sees no need to engage in any exercise that diverts attention from getting stakeholders to work together," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
The presidency was responding to media enquiries on the debate, as Zuma had not formally received Zille's request by Monday afternoon.