The ANC must approach its national conference with the serious manner it approached its founding conference in 1912, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.
"We must approach the conference with a view to find solutions for the nation," he said.
He was speaking at the national policy conference of the National Education, Health and Allied workers Union (Nehawu) in Boksburg.
The African National Congress would hold its national conference in Mangaung at the end of the year and its policy conference would be held in Midrand at the end of June.
Zuma said the policy conference must come with better policies for the ANC and the country, and that the policy document on the "second transition" was critical.
"The document tackles challenges facing the ANC and the country. It reviews historic landmarks of the ANC, and takes a view of the future of South Africa".
Zuma said that regardless of political gains made in 1994 there were still problems of unemployment, inequalities, and poverty.
"We must build a country, and we must lead the social and economic transformation."
He said the policy conference must also debate an economic model suitable for the country. He urged Nehawu members not to shy away from activities of the ANC at branch levels.
"We must belong to political party, swell the ranks of the ANC participate from the branch, zone, region, province and national."
Zuma said the ANC must lead the second transition like it did in the first transition of bringing freedom.
"We must be people drive, the people must be involve if the people are not involved they protest against the government."
Zuma told delegates that the ANC was at a cross-roads and needs leaders who could take it forward.
"We do not want to leave this movement into the hands of people we are not sure of...."
He said at the founding conference in 1912, delegates never looked into a person but the task ahead.
An example of that was when Sefako Mapogo Makgatho was nominated, his region Western Tranvaal which had more delegates opted for John Dube as a leader.
"Where is the spirit of not looking at a person?" he asked.
Earlier Congress of the SA Trade Union, Sdumo Dlamini said the federation stood by its commitment to defend the resolution taken in Polokwane and the leadership elected.
"Comrades let me be clear on this position, Polokwane was a watershed moment bringing a shift in leadership, policy and resolution. We stand by our resolution to defend the resolution of Polokwane."
He said he hoped not to hear contradiction about their stance on the defend of Polokwane.
He introduced Zuma as a trained unionist produced by revolution.
"He is one of us because he was produced by a revolution we are part of."
Zuma walked into the hall flanked by Dlamini and Nehawu president Mzwandile Makwaeba.
Delegates dressed in red union T-shirts, burst into a song praising Zuma and waved placard calling for him to run for re-election for the second term as ANC leader in Mangaung.
"Kubi kubi siyaya – noma kunjani, – besitshaya; besibopha, besidubula, siyaya [the situation is bad but we will still get where we are going, even if the beats us, arrest us, or shoot to kill us, we will get there]," they sang.
After his speech Zuma sang his trade mark song Awuleth' Umshini Wami ( bring me my machine gun).