Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised to voters that boycotted the 2016 local government elections to teach the party a lesson.
"People that stayed away from voting for us in 2016 because the ANC must listen, we must listen to what our people are saying. Because if we do not listen, we will lose.
"In 2016, they stayed away and did not vote for us, they said they will teach us a lesson because we see you acting in a corrupt manner, wasting resources, stealing money and said they are going to punish us and indeed, they did punish us.
"We must reverse that, we have heard you [the voters] and we don't want our people to punish us anymore and therefore must reclaim the ANC of [Nelson] Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Albertina Sisulu and we want it back, and want it back now.
"That was the ANC of integrity and great respect, when we have that ANC, then we will be able to change this country. We will be able to reduce poverty, unemployment and inequality," said Ramaphosa.
ANC 'exists to improve the lives of our people'
He was addressing the members and leadership of the region, who were joined by Dr Mathole Motshekga, his wife Minister Angie Motshekga, and Reverend Frank Chikane at the launch of the ANC's OR Tambo Friday's by the ANC's Greater Midrand Zone 15 at the Ivory Park North Hall on Friday night.
He said the party did not exist to enrich anyone and did not exist to do "funny things".
"It exists to improve the lives of our people."
Ramaphosa said, "The ANC wants to see and do things in a radical way, now that our foundation [in 1994] is built and the platform is firm, we now want to be even more radical and change the socio-economic landscape of our country. The reason we want to do this is because many of our people are still poor."
He said, "That is the job of the ANC, there is no one who can fix that problem other than the ANC, all those who are talking, they are dreaming," he said in isiZulu.
"No other movement will be able to transform South Africa to be the South Africa of our dreams other than the ANC."
He praised the zone, saying it was the branches vibrancy and vigour that could change the lives of people.
"It is about the ANC regaining its role as the leader in society. We have lost that role of being the leader of society."
He said nationally, the party had lost this role.
"That is why the likes of comrade Reverend Frank Chikane stood up; it is because they are concerned about the status of the ANC, they are not mad, they are fine in the head.
"They stood up out of deep love for the African National Congress. They are driven by love, they do not have hate in their hearts, and they do this out of love."
Call for the ANC to lead
He said those that had broken ranks and called the party to order were speaking because they were concerned about the ANC seemingly losing its role in society.
"Our task now is to regain that role, to be once again leaders of society; the ANC should lead, we are not used to being followers and now are following others.
"The ANC must always be in front, because that is where it belongs, it is the pillar of this country..."
He said once the ANC leads in society, it will regain its power in the country.
"We will be able to achieve real economic transformation, not umkokoleta [not a phoney one]; radical transformation which is going to transform the lives of our people. Not radical economic transformation for certain people, or certain groups or families, but for all South Africans."
"When the ANC speaks, people will listen and know that the ANC is telling the truth, not lying. ANC of great integrity. This is an ANC of respect, of good behaviour, of doing all good things that need to be done in society. That is where we will be able to measure our success."
He said the party would be able to measure its success once it had reduced in equality and unemployment was a problem of the past.
He said the National Development Plan says the government, by 2030, should have reduced unemployment to 6%.
Ramaphosa said this is possible only if government uses its resources properly.
"If we are not going to steal money, it is possible to do so. If we are not going to be corrupt, it is possible to do so."
He said the ANC needed to play a role of uniting South Africans.
"Today the ANC is not seen as a movement that is united anymore and we are saying we must go back to where we were; we must be the ANC that unites all our people, that works with all our sectors, in our communities, going house to house, church to church, NGO to NGO...
"We built the most united front in this country and we brought down the ugly oppressors of apartheid and that is where we need to go back..." he said. -- News24