If Jacob Zuma becomes the country's president in 2009, he will choose to serve one term only, decentralise presidential powers and introduce "effective management" by firing incompetent officials.
In a wide-ranging interview, Zuma said the ANC's bitter succession struggle between him and Thabo Mbeki had provided some lessons.
Two ways of managing the succession would be for a leader to openly indicate when he intended to step down; and to avoid centralising power in the presidency, said Zuma.
"I would prefer to leave after one term. Even if it is not one term, I think in the second term I should be able to begin the process of winding down. I would allow open debate, not make people guess what is going to happen in terms of succession.
"This would allow the organisation to indicate what it wants. But if it was me deciding, if the ANC had made me president of the country (I would prefer one term)."
Zuma said the succession battle had been a lesson for the ANC.
"But that also comes down to the maturity of the leadership. How do you lead the ANC, how do you make the movement operate cohesively?"
On the subject of centralising power, Zuma said under him the ANC leadership - not the individual president - would take decisions.
"Once you allow that tendency (of centralising power) you are in danger that the people will not be able to defend their democracy (or) defend their power. And I've been warning we should be wary of this, it is a dangerous thing."
Zuma wants to end the slow pace of delivery.
"If somebody is failing to do his or her work then they must not be kept there," he said.
"One of the things I would want to be able to do in government is to find a way of shortening the time of (service) delivery. It makes me sick when something that could be done in two or three weeks is done in two or three months."
Zuma strongly criticised provincial and departmental budget rollovers, blaming them on ineffective management.
"If in one year there are rollovers, you must find exactly why. Once you have diagnosed the problem, remedy it. It's a question of effective management."
He believed in a system of critical peer review among Cabinet ministers to avoid turf jealousies.
"If there is a lack of performance we must be able to discuss it there."
Tender processes needed to be reviewed to end corruption.
"We've got to accept that tenders have caused a problem."
He also believed a law should be introduced regulating the cooling-off period former civil servants or politicians should face before they can take a private-sector job.
The ANC had failed for years to enact a law that regulates the post-employment period to avoid conflicts of interest.
Referring to relationships with other African countries, Zuma said: "Parties must interact and begin to influence how the big men in Africa are dealt with at a political level."
He reiterated his strong criticism of Zanu-PF.
"We couldn't keep quiet, because we did not agree with the kind of things that were happening, and we will continue to do so."
Zuma refused to discuss questions relating to the arms deal because of his pending court case.