Negative tendencies such as the bulk buying of membership and gate keeping were costing the party votes, party president Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
Delivering his political report to the national general council (NGC), Zuma also warned against ill-discipline, hooliganism and violence taking place in the party.
“There is a lot of work that must still be done to rid the movement of certain tendencies which may undermine the gains we have made.”
He said this was “even more important” as the party needed “an effective African National Congress [ANC]” to prepare for the elections.
“We have continuously received an overwhelming number of votes in the national general elections; thank the millions of people who voted for the ANC in the last elections and acknowledge the hard work of all the tiers and structures during that period.
“It was a difficult election. While celebrating the 2014 election victory, we realised some of our traditional voters have in recent year become dissatisfied and some have chosen to abstain from the elections, demonstrating their displeasures, but are still remaining loyal to the movement.”
Zuma said South Africa’s loyalty to the party should not be taken for granted.
“We must also not think [their loyalty] will be there forever. The NGC needs to assess the state of the organisation and identify those issues that make our traditional support base unhappy.
“These tendencies create a public perception the ANC has become a self-serving organisation or one that at times deviates from its core values.”
Zuma said this was the perception of most South Africans.
“If the ANC does this then where must our people go, because the ANC is the only party they can go to?
“The core values of our movement are unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collectiveness, honesty, discipline, hard work, constructive criticism and mutual respect.
“While we have identified negative tendencies in the past, new ones have also emerged and the existing ones are becoming entrenched.”
Zuma said some members were undermining the organisation.
“The recent explosion and suspension of members demonstrates the movement will not hesitate to act against ill-discipline.
“Some of the negative tendencies include systematic sowing of divisions. Most ANC branches are divided and others are facing difficulties and are faced with tendencies such as gate keeping, bulk buying of membership,” he said.
Zuma said these challenges were the reasons why ANC membership had decreased from one million to just above 789 000 over the last couple of years. News24