Mabuza later addressed a crowd of supporters in Seshego, where he urged them to come to the January 8 statement meeting.
He admitted there were problems the party grappled with and assured that these were being attended to.
Mabuza received a cold reception at the meeting with traditional leaders, who lambasted the government for abandoning them. They threatened to boycott the ANC at the polls.
“I want to appeal to you to calm down. You have given me, here in this meeting, an ultimatum of six months. We will never separate with the traditional leaders. I can hear today the threats that you are putting across to say, we are going to leave you, but from the side of the ANC, we will never because you are a part of our existence.
“We will never turn our backs against you. In times of difficulties and happiness, we will hold hands together with you.”
The deputy president added that he hoped the party’s annual celebration would help the leadership reconcile with its constituency as it had been evident that they had broken away.
“Our people are complaining about the social distance that we have created between us and them, and I can sense the very same sound from this meeting ... that you are very far from us. Even if we want to talk to you, you won’t talk to us.”