Loud cheer for Zuma in the Cape

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

ANC president Jacob Zuma hit the ground running last night and received a standing ovation from about 800 Cosatu shop stewards who filled a hall to capacity.

His four-day visit to the Western Cape is seen by the ANC as vital in stemming the steady flow of councillors who are defecting to join the breakaway party led by Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Lekota - the Congress of the People [COP].

Referring to US president-elect Barack Obama's overwhelming victory in the US elections, Zuma, pictured, asked the audience if they could "ignite the excitement in this country in the same way".

In true Zuma style, he told his audience only what they wanted to hear. He promised higher salaries for policemen, teachers and nurses after next year's election.

"We can't have policemen who, as they go around looking for criminals, don't know how to pay their school fees and their rent," he said.

Zuma's arrival in Cape Town will send a signal to renegade councillors that "there isn't any no-go area for the ANC in Western Cape, and that there is no area that the ANC will not contest at the polls".

On Sunday, Zuma will hold a "people's forum" in the volatile Philippi ward controlled by councillor Wandile Nkwele, who defected to the COP on Wednesday.

Nkwele, however, says Zuma will not get an audience in Philippi.