Limpopo ANC chairperson, Stan Mathabatha, on Monday urged party delegates to learn from their "northern neighbours".
Addressing the provincial general council in Polokwane, Mathabatha said the removal of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe should send a clear message that no leader should be allowed to be more powerful than the party.
It should never be difficult or even impossible to call a leader to order or to account. The leadership of a party is not the ownership of a party.
He said leaders should still be subjected to internal party discipline when they have erred or wronged the party.
Mugabe was removed three weeks ago after he became unpopular when it emerged that he was positioning his wife, Grace Mugabe, to take over the presidential reins – a move analysts have advised the ANC to take as a lesson.
Mathabatha has also urged leaders not to be fooled by praise singers who will sing their praises even when they are evidently in the wrong.
He said Mugabe's removal was also a lesson on the dangers of patronage in the organisation.
Manipulation of branch processes
"Patronage creates artificial consensus and masks real differences and divergence of views. People remain silent even when their voices are needed most, simply because they do not want to risk disrupting the comfort of a patronage network."
He said for the ruling party to remain relevant it must listen to its members.
Mathabatha also urged ANC members to avoid dragging the party to court before they exhaust internal processes.
"The tendency that is now becoming prevalent is the manipulation of such internal dispute resolution mechanisms. If the organisation can tolerate the manipulation of its internal processes, members will lose confidence in such internal processes."
Mathabatha warned senior party deployees in the region to avoid forcing their preferred candidates on branch members.
Senior leaders of the ANC who get deployed to oversee processes at branches or regions cannot afford to act and behave in a malicious or factional manner – they need to be above reproach.
He said the ANC should deal harshly with party leaders who manipulate branch processes in order "to undermine the voices of the people to elevate their own voices".