2016 was challenging for South Africa, both politically and economically. It was a year Africa’s most advanced economy almost slid into recession and the president’s indiscretion in some political issues almost caused chaos in the economy. Jacob Zuma almost lost his seat in the year and he is only lucky to remain president of South Africa by year end. While his political career has now been tainted by allegations of corruption, Zuma can only hope for a 2017 that could help erase some of his 2016 errors.
The South African president’s New Year message for 2017 is one of economic transformation and nation building.
We have come to the conclusion of a fruitful and productive year.
We moved a step further this year in fighting poverty, inequality and unemployment, as we continued working hard together, to reverse the legacy of apartheid colonialism.
Further progress was made in extending services to our people including housing, water, electricity, accessible education, health care, roads, transport, social grants and in fighting hunger through public employment schemes and other programmes.
Most of these services are included in the Constitution as the socio-economic rights that South Africans are entitled to.
The year 2017 must be a decisive one for the country as we take the reconstruction and development programme forward.
Jobs remain high on the list of priorities of our people. In this regard, we must continue to promote unity in action to reignite economic growth.
The collaboration between business, labour and government to support the economy, which is one of the key achievements of the year 2016, must continue in the New Year.
Importantly, together we must take the economic transformation programme forward. We need to change the commanding heights of the economy, and increase the participation of black people as owners and managers.
Progress made on the achievement of this goal will greatly enhance the national reconciliation programme.
Business, government and society must work together on this national imperative.
We also need to make meaningful progress on the land reform and restitution programme in 2017, in in line with the Constitution.
As we continue to invest in the future, access to education and training as well as the provision of youth employment and economic opportunities must remain key priorities for all decision makers in the country.
Nation building and promoting social cohesion will need to elevate in 2017. One of the key tasks in this regard, should be a heightened fight against racism.
All institutions and businesses must promote inclusion and non-racialism. Nobody must be excluded on the basis of colour or race, through subtle and unconstitutional means.
We will mark two important centenaries next year.
We will celebrate the centenary of His Excellency Oliver Reginald Tambo, the late President of the ANC and national hero who worked tirelessly so that all South Africans can live in peace, freedom and democracy.
Secondly, we will mark the centenary of the sinking of the ship, the Mendi, in which scores of black soldiers died on 21 February 1917.
The two centenaries must be used to unite all our people in appreciation of what the country has achieved against all odds, in building a new society from the ashes of apartheid colonialism.
We are one people. Regardless of the challenges we face, we must continue to work together, to build the South Africa of our dreams.
We congratulate Christians including religious leaders, as well as all in the country, for a successful and joyous Christmas.
We also extend our heartfelt condolences to all who lost their loved ones during the festive season. May their souls rest in peace.
We thank our law enforcement agencies, especially the police and traffic authorities, for ensuring order and peace during the holidays.
We also acknowledge health care professionals and other public sector workers, retail and hospitality sector staff, the media, and all others who are on duty during the holidays.
We reiterate our call to all road users to obey the rules of the road. Irresponsible behaviour costs lives.
We wish you all a happy, successful, productive and prosperous new year, 2017.