Give my government a chance before heading for the pickets, President Jacob Zuma urged South Africans this weekend.

Zuma reiterated his commitment to fighting corruption and having no mercy for "lazy councillors and mayors" when he spoke to thousands of ANC supporters at Mpumalanga Stadium in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.

He said he would rather leave the ANC and head home to Nkandla than lead a "party full of corruption".

Commenting for the first time on the strikes sweeping the country, Zuma said despite the right to strike there was no justification for people striking against an administration as new as his.

"I have watched these strikes closely and though they are legal and in some cases genuine it is not right to do things that will keep this government from fulfilling its commitments," Zuma said.

"Let's not do things that will create the perception that you are against your own government. Give this government a chance.

"What people are doing is like entering the ground and scoring a goal while the other team is still putting their boots on and preparing themselves for a match."

Zuma said he was not saying that people should not strike if they were dissatisfied, but blamed inadequate delivery of services on lazy councillors and mayors.

"It is not right for an ANC councillor to be bigger than the people. People will become angry and start protesting and this drags the organisation's name into the mud," he said.

The president repeated earlier threats that he would have no mercy for lazy councillors.

The government has established a department to monitor and evaluate councillors' performance. They had until next year to pull up their socks, "because if you don't perform, forget about being a councillor after the local government elections in 2011".

Zuma spoke at length about his plans to fight corruption. Some thought he was joking when he vowed to fight corruption.

Corruption has become so widespread it has even divided the ANC because some "people are not speaking to one another because they are fighting over fraudulent gains".

"When I committed myself to fighting corruption there were people who thought I was joking and continued engaging in corrupt activities," Zuma said.

I warn them to clean up their act and stop it. They must also return the money they received through corrupt activities.

"If it is established that I am corrupt, show me the door. I told the ANC leaders in January that if they elected me to lead a corrupt party I have a home back in Nkandla. I will go and stay there."

Provincial chairman Zweli Mkhize also urged people to give Zuma and his government a chance.

"Some people started striking even before [Zuma] got his first salary," Mkhize said.