There are no holy cows when discussing ANC policy documents, the party's head of policy Jeff Radebe said on Friday.
"There are no holy cows so people, even leaders, have a right to reflect their own views," Radebe said at The New Age business briefing in Sandton.
"However, it will be branches who decide on these matters."
Radebe was reacting to reports that ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe questioned the idea of a "second transition", one of the ANC's main policy discussion documents.
Motlanthe was quoted as saying: "Second transition! Second transition! Second transition! From what, from where to, where? What constituted the first transition? What were the tasks of that phase, have all those tasks been accomplished or not?"
According to the report, Motlanthe told a dinner in honour of late intellectual Harold Wolpe that the policy document was packed with "smatterings of Marxist jargon".
The African National Congress will debate the idea as the next step in South Africa's democracy at its policy conference next week.
Radebe said the second transition was about the economy and about social transformation.
"Are we saying we should not focus on improving the quality of lives of our people, are we saying let [the] commanding highs of South Africa's economy continue to be dominated by whites and males?" Radebe asked.
"The answer is no."
He said he believed the majority of South Africans would ensure that the issues of transformation and economic transformation must be a priority.
It must be a key priority for the ANC and those deployed in government, said Radebe.
ANC president Jacob Zuma has promoted the idea of a "second transition", but it has been rejected by the ANC Youth League and the SA Students' Congress, as well as the ANC in Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West.
Radebe and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who was also attending the briefing, were asked whether the debate on who would lead the ANC for the next five years was not influencing policy discussions.
Succession debates have been dominating the media in the lead-up to the ANC's 53rd national conference in Mangaung in December.
Mantashe said the ANC had instructed its branches not to discuss succession or nominate potential leaders so that members could focus more on the policies.
Radebe said opening nominations so early in the year was premature.
"We still have to tackle the issues of policies, the issues of challenges facing the organisation [ANC]," he said.
"Should we not elect leaders at the end of the day when we have adopted policies, and we can look amongst ourselves at who can now take the ANC to the next level."
The policy decisions made at the policy conference will be discussed and finalised at the national conference in Mangaung.
These policies will form the basis for the ANC government's policies, new laws or amended laws.