"I feel guilty I didn't offer former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza the support and comfort she needed," ANC NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.
Sisulu was reacting to Khoza's shock announcement that she was quitting as a member of the ANC.
"I do know she had a tough time. I, personally, am feeling very guilty that I didn't get to her to discuss with her and offer her the necessary support and comfort that she needed.
"I have been wanting to do that, however, I have been too caught up in my own situation. We have lost one very strong person who would be able to stand up to power and say not in my name. I wish she hadn't resigned," she said.
Sisulu heard about Khoza's resignation during a question and answer session with journalists at the Human Settlement Summit, east of Johannesburg.
She spoke fondly of Khoza's courage, saying her spirit reminded her of struggle hero Chris Hani's fearlessness.
"I'm saddened by it... It's people of courage who are able to tell us when we go wrong. It is people of courage who brought the ANC to where we are.
"Chris Hani put the ANC on the path that it is now. Out of his courage in pointing out to the leadership of the ANC where things were going wrong, we were able to have the Morogoro conference. Out of the Morogoro conference, we have the strategy documents and we went from strength to strength in understanding how to deal with problems," Sisulu added.
She said that she would have wanted Khoza to have the same kind of attitude with the problems she was seeing in the ruling party.
"I would have wanted her to hold out because we need people like her. Our leaders have stood the worst test and come out heroes of note," she said.
Preach to her
She promised to call Khoza and attempt to convince her to revoke her resignation.
"I will preach to her what I learnt from Hani. We make or break organisations by the sacrifice that we go through and her sacrifice would have made a much more meaningful impact on the younger generation if she stayed on."
Sisulu then pointed to the patriarchal system within the ANC that was not allowing women to have a clear voice and equal opportunities. "We feel it on a daily basis. We have a very patriarchal society.
As women who were part of the struggle, the understanding is that we were not only fighting racism and exploitation, we were also fighting to make sure we free ourselves as women from those backward traditions underpinned by patriarchy.
"We feel we have not gone far enough... but we will soldier on. That is the reason why we have women standing up to say we will go forward and go for the top post."
During her resignation speech at Liliesleaf Farm, in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg, Khoza said that she had been inundated with calls from members of the ANC who told her they believed the party could self-correct.
Khoza is one of the party's MPs and has been criticised by some members of the party for speaking out against President Jacob Zuma.
She was also hurled before a disciplinary hearing by the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal after she announced that she would vote according to her conscience in a motion of no confidence against Zuma in Parliament.
The ANC in KZN, however, has said the disciplinary hearing was because she had brought the party into disrepute with her continued criticism of Zuma in the public domain.
The former chairperson of the of the public service and administration portfolio committee said she humbled herself before the ANC leadership over recent months.
She also thanked several women within the ANC for supporting her, they included Barbara Masekela, Gertrude Shope, Lindiwe Mabuza, Frene Ginwala, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Sheila Sisulu.