Fellow South Africans
As we celebrate the dawn of a new year, we look back on 2018 as a year that marked a new beginning in our shared effort to build a better South Africa.
It was a year in which our nation drew closer together as we celebrated the centenary of the birth of our founding President Nelson Rolihahla Mandela and the stalwart of our struggle Mama Albertina Sisulu.
The centenary reminded us and the global community of the great accomplishments of this country at the southern tip of Africa.
As we celebrated these remarkable champions of freedom, we reaffirmed our commitment to the values they embodied and the principles for which they fought – equality, dignity, integrity.
During the course of 2018, we bade farewell to several eminent South Africans who had served their people with distinction, and who had dedicated their talents, their energies and their lives to building a better South Africa and a better world.
We shall miss them and continue to honour them.
This has been a year of renewal.
It has been a year in which we worked together to restore confidence in our public institutions, and to confront the devastating effects of state capture and corruption, both in government and business.
This has been a year in which we have focused on the one thing our country needs most: jobs, jobs and more jobs.
We convened a Jobs Summit to develop new pathways into work for millions of South Africans.
As social partners, we agreed on several far-reaching initiatives to grow the economy, create many more jobs and provide young people with the skills and experience they need to thrive in the workplaces of today and tomorrow.
We have embarked on a massive investment drive to place our economy on a new path of inclusive growth.
We are encouraged by the many investors, both in South Africa and internationally, who have shown keen interest in investing in our economy.
As the New Year begins, millions of South African workers will benefit from the introduction of the country’s first national minimum wage.
This is the result of many decades of tireless struggle and is a powerful demonstration of the shared resolve of all social partners to tackle poverty and inequality.
The introduction of the national minimum wage, like many of the achievements of the past year, proves our ability as South Africans to work together to solve difficult challenges.
We will be called upon to work with even greater focus and determination in the New Year to confront our problems and create new opportunities for all South Africans.
We will need a huge national effort to build on the progress made this year in restoring our country to a path of growth and progress.
We will need to take extraordinary measures and work together to take some difficult decisions, given the challenges that lie ahead.
As we work to build a strong and resilient economy, we must also confront severe social ills such as gender based violence.
This is a national emergency, which requires a firm, coordinated response in which all South Africans have a role to play.
We will never be a free, peaceful and prosperous society for as long as women are subjected to violence and abuse and discrimination.
Fellow South Africans,
In 2019, we will celebrate 25 years of freedom and democracy.
We will also hold our sixth democratic general election.
This will be an opportunity to renew our dedication to our democratic dispensation and to give effect to each and every provision of our Constitution.
It will be an opportunity for a new generation of young South Africans to exercise the right to vote and determine their own future.
We urge all our people, particularly the youth, to register to vote and to exercise their responsibility as patriotic citizens of our great nation.
In 2019, we must ensure that the legacy of such great leaders as Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu is felt in the lives of every citizen and every community.
In 2019, we must raise our hands – in the spirit of Thuma Mina – to participate actively in the transformation of our society.
Each of us has the ability and the desire to make a meaningful difference.
Having welcomed the new dawn at the beginning of this year, we can be certain that the sun is rising ever higher in the South African sky.
It is our shared responsibility to ensure that all our people bask in its warmth.
To the matric Class of 2018: South Africa thanks you for the hard work, discipline and diligence you maintained throughout your years at school.
We congratulate each and every successful candidate and the families, teachers and communities who made them succeed.
To those who have not passed, I urge you to make use of the opportunities available to improve your results, to return to your books and to never give up.
Throughout your life, you will come face to face with challenges that will bring out the best in you.
Make sure this is one of them.
We can only take care of our future if we take care of ourselves, and so I call on all South Africans to make this celebration of the New Year and the remaining days of our festive period a safe and happy occasion.
In our homes, on our roads, in our taverns, restaurants and malls, let us give one another the gifts of tolerance, patience, safety and respect.
I wish you and yours a successful and peaceful 2019.
Happy New Year!