People thought the ANC would be dead and buried in Mangaung where it held its national conference, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
"Many think there is a war in the ANC. They were saying this conference was going to die," Zuma said at The New Age breakfast in Bloemfontein.
"People were writing obituaries before we came here."
He said it was because of the values of the African National Congress that the party had always survived.
Zuma defeated Kgalema Motlanthe in the race for the party's top job earlier this week.
"We believe in the internal democracy of the ANC," said Zuma.
"They [ANC members] were given an opportunity to think freely and make choices and not to make their choices in secret but to talk about it.
"But people mistake this for fighting," he said.
During the five-day national conference, which ended on Thursday, the ANC elected new leadership.
Cyril Ramaphosa was elected Zuma's deputy in an overwhelming victory.
Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and chairperson Baleka Mbete remained in their positions.
Former presidency spokesperson Jessie Duarte was elected deputy secretary-general and KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Zweli Mkhize treasurer general.
The rest of the top six officials had joined Zuma at the breakfast.
Zuma said the ANC belonged to the people of South Africa and so the officials had to come together with one goal.
"So people in this country know who is in the ANC's top six," he said.