Addressing a packed Orlando stadium on Sunday, President Jacob Zuma said the party had heard people's cries that the ANC "are too busy fighting each other and not paying sufficient attention to their needs".
"We must give our people hope and unite against our common enemies which are unemployment, inequality and poverty, and not against one another," Zuma said.
He was delivering the January 8 statement by the National Executive Committee to give party supporters the plan of action for the year.
Challenges to unity
In the full statement, the party admits that it is plagued by "serious challenges to its unity threatening its position as leader of society".
"Divisive tendencies such as factionalism, gatekeeping and manipulation of internal processes exist at all levels of ANC, the ANC leagues, the Alliance and the mass democratic movement," the statement reads.
It said these tendencies inhibit the party's ability to give decisive leadership to society.
"Our own research and interactions with members of the ANC demonstrates clearly that the people abhor the apparent preoccupation with personal gain."
The theme for the January 8 statement is 'Unity in Action' following a turbulent 2016 that saw public spats by senior leaders divided over Zuma's leadership and calls for a consultative conference following an 8% decline in electoral support.
The divisions are expected to heighten ahead of the December elective conference.
The party has called on its leagues to lead the push for unity.
"The ANC leagues are the coalface of our organisation representing specific constituencies within our movement, they must lead programmes to unite the people," Zuma said.
The divisions have extended to its alliance partners Cosatu and SACP, unhappy about the government policies and party direction.
"Our task is also to unite the alliance as said by President [OR] Tambo during [Moses] Mabhida's funeral to guard the alliance jealously and not to tear ourselves apart." Zuma said