The ANC must reflect on its character and "cleanse" itself at its four-day policy conference, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
"To maintain [its] character, the ANC should be able to cleanse itself of alien tendencies," Zuma told delegates in Midrand, to a smattering of applause.
These tendencies included ill-discipline, patronage, careerism, corruption, abuse of power and a decline in the ideological depth of ANC members.
Zuma said the party had "taken action, and will continue to take action against anyone who crosses the line".
He said the conference provided an opportunity to reflect on the party's character.
The party's character was that of a disciplined force of the left, with a bias towards the poor and working class.
"The ANC has been the voice of the poor and the marginalised since its inception in 1912."
Zuma called on the ANC to engage in a fruitful debate, particularly on organisational renewal. The ANC must underscore the values of unity, honesty, discipline, hard work, constructive criticism and mutual respect, he added.