The process of electing African National Congress (ANC) leaders should be open, party treasurer Mathews Phosa said on Wednesday.
"I, for one, believe that our process for the election of our office bearers should be more open, more structured, and definitely more in touch with grassroots structures of our party and movement," he said.
"When, however, such contestation becomes personal, disruptive and not in keeping with the strong democratic values of our movement, then as a consequence unity will be bruised."
In a speech prepared for delivery at the memorial service of Themba Manyosi in Mthatha, Phosa said leaders should speak out to stabilise the movement.
They should do this by looking a decade ahead rather than only two months into the future.
"When we look back in 10 years time, the risk will be that we shake our heads and say: If only we kept cool heads and looked at the health and future of our party, rather than who will fill what position based on which agenda."
Phosa said while the ANC had done much in improving the lives of South Africans, continuing with social payments was not good in the long run.
"We cannot, in the long term, become a nation where the state is the sole provider of social payments, economic opportunities, and jobs," he said.
"The fibre of our approach towards economic growth needs to change... we need to actively encourage, promote and mentor black entrepreneurs who create wealth, opportunities and jobs."
The ANC had worked hard in its attempt to turn around the harsh legacy of apartheid.
"In that we have partially succeeded, but the truth is that we have a long way to go," Phosa said.
"To be able to claim success in that regard we have to ensure that the twin evils of poverty and unemployment are addressed in the short and medium term."
The transition from a liberation movement to a party governing a country was a challenging one, fraught with dangers and seductions.
"It is difficult, when at the rise of the sun one morning, you change colours from a liberator to government, and in many ways, you become the enemy," he said.
"That challenge to change your character and methodology from opposing the oppressor to seeking partnerships with erstwhile enemies is one that many liberation movements have failed [in]."
Phosa said the ANC's job was a simple one – translating policy into delivery in the shortest possible time-frames.
"If we make honest mistakes in doing so, then so be it. I would rather that we deliver through a tough learning process than not deliver at all."