After suffering historic losses in South Africa's recent municipal elections, the top brass of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) gathered for talks Thursday over the party's declining support.
The party of Nelson Mandela last week saw its worst poll results since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, losing majority control of the largest metropolitan areas, including the capital Pretoria and business hub Johannesburg.
The ANC garnered less than 54 percent of ballots cast nationally -- an eight percentage point drop from the last local poll in 2011.
The election results highlighted the declining popularity of the party that led South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle.
"We want to do thorough analysis of the elections," ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told reporters just before the planned four days of talks got under way at a hotel in Pretoria.
"The essence of the meeting is to say how do we interpret (the loss of support) and to seek ways on how we arrest the decline, how we turn the institution around."
The elections were largely seen as a referendum on President Jacob Zuma, whose rule has been dogged by scandal, including the use of public funds in upgrading his private Nkandla residence with facilities including a chicken coop and a swimming pool.
But Mantashe said Zuma's presidency was not up for discussion at the talks where the president, who is also head of the party, will be in attendance.
The meeting comes as both the ANC and the main opposition Democratic Alliance are deep in coalition talks with smaller parties to try to gain control of several cities.