The policies decided on at the ANC's conference this week will affect all South Africans, not just party members, national executive committee member Tokyo Sexwale said on Tuesday.
"It's a very important conference," said Sexwale, who is human settlements minister.
"When we talk about health, people are worried about health, housing [and] unemployment."
The African National Congress starts a four-day policy conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
Sexwale said the conference was a preparatory conference leading up to the party's elective conference in Mangaung, in the Free State, in December.
"The policies that are discussed here on education, on development, on housing, on health, on the economy will be ratified by the national conference in Mangaung," he said.
Sexwale said a separate conference had to be held from the elective conferenc, otherwise it would turn into a 10 or 15 day conference.
The ANC would make sure that it got "real" policies out of this week's conference, he said.
"The ANC is its own boss. It has no choice but to come out with strong policies, strong policies reflecting where we are as a country," said Sexwale.
"At the end of the day it touches the lives of people... it must move from words to actions."
About 3500 delegates are expected to attend the conference. They consist of branch representatives, NEC members, the ANC's leagues, its alliance partners, deployees and business representatives.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairman Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday morning he was looking forward to a good outcome at the end of the week.
"We are very happy with the preparations... there are some vibrant ideas. We don't believe there are issues that can't be discussed."
KwaZulu-Natal is the ANC's biggest province. It has brought 540 delegates to the event. However, Mkhize said it was not the numbers that counted.
Tuesday's session started with an address by President Jacob Zuma, who is also ANC president.
This would be followed by a closed plenary session, where the ANC's policy documents would be discussed.