Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Durban basks in Zuma's ANC victory

ANC supporters in Durban

By Alice Lander
BBC News, Durban

Durban is suffering from a massive hangover after revellers supporting South Africa's new governing party leader partied on the city's streets well into the small hours.

Jacob Zuma, who defeated President Thabo Mbeki to lead the African National Congress at an acrimonious conference, finds his grassroots support in the city where he is known by his clan name Msholozi.

It means a lot to us. It was long overdue. We waited for this thing for five years
ANC reveller

Even in the dark days of 2005 when his political career looked over, after rape and corruption allegations cost him his job as deputy president, JZ's home province of Kwazulu-Natal stood by him.

And as soon as the long-awaited leadership results were out on Tuesday night people poured out of the buildings in Albert Park - the area of the city with most ANC members - chanting, singing and blowing vuvuzelas or soccer horns.

'Promised land'

Durban City and Ethekwini municipality manager Michael Sutcliffe said the democratic tradition of the ANC had been affirmed and the city was pleased with the result.

ANC supporters in Durban
The young are hoping for employment under a Zuma-led ANC

The impromptu street celebrations culminated in a procession to the City Hall where a few ANC members made short speeches.

In the hours leading up to the announcement, one resident of the area said the situation had been tense with everyone listening to their TVs and radios.

Once it was clear Mr Zuma had emerged the victor, people started shouting from the windows and the party began.

His anthem uMshini'Wami - the anti-apartheid song Bring Me My Machinegun - dominated the singing.

"It means a lot to us. It was long overdue. We waited for this thing for five years," said one young reveller.

"We are very happy that Zuma has taken over because he's our comrade and we believe in him. He will take the country to the promised land."

As the night wore on the crowd was largely made up of young people, many of whom said they would now be able to find work under a Zuma-led ANC.

Jacob Zuma
We were not happy with the firing of Jacob Zuma as deputy president
Michael Sutcliffe
Durban City manager

"The result simply means the ANC has come back to its rightful owners, the poor and the workers of this country," concluded one ANC member.

Mr Sutcliffe said the city was delighted.

"Ethekwini municipality was probably the first region in the country to really say we were not happy with the firing of Jacob Zuma as deputy president," he added.

"Since then we have supported him but we have also supported the importance of democracy in the ANC."

"The ANC has led this continent and probably leads the world in terms of democratic practices and tonight this was affirmed."

Mr Zuma, who was acquitted last year of rape charges which he said were politically motivated, may still face corruption charges.

But for the residents of Durban, nothing will dampen their joy and they cannot wait for Mr Zuma to visit and celebrate the victory which they feel is theirs.

"I'm sure we will celebrate until Msholozi comes to Durban - he's got the most supporters in this town," an ANC member said before heading back into the dancing crowds.

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John Simpson reports on the election of Jacob Zuma


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