Fellow South Africans,
We are nearing the end of another momentous year in the history of our young democracy.
This year has taken us closer to the achievement of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa in which all of us, black and white, can live in peace, harmony and prosperity.
This is a time when we can collectively reflect on the progress made during the year and commit ourselves further to address the challenges that face our country and its people.
We do so with a view to consolidate the gains we have thus far made while sparing neither strength nor effort in confronting the challenges facing our country – poverty, unemployment and inequality.
In a difficult global economic environment, we have been working to strengthen our economy through investment in infrastructure, providing support to key industrial sectors, and developing our agricultural value chain.
Working together, we have stabilised the supply of electricity to our homes, schools, hospitals, factories and businesses.
Working together with key role players in labour, business, communities and government, we have made significant progress towards the introduction of a national minimum wage as one of the key mechanisms to reduce income inequality.
These deliberations have been part of a broader process among all social partners to improve the labour relations environment, which we expect to complete in the new year.
President Jacob Zuma has led an important engagement with major stakeholders in addressing key issues arising from students protests around the cost of higher education.
We are confident that working together with students organisations and management we will find long term solutions to all these challenges.
Working together as South Africans, we will be able to realise the call that was made in the Freedom Charter for higher education and technical training to be open to all.
It is a matter of concern that largely peaceful protest has on occasion been marred by the destruction of critical property of schools, libraries, clinics and damage to other community infrastructure.
As a society, we need to remain resolute in our conviction that in a democratic society, protest must take place within the framework of the law.
We must work together to protect these community structures for the benefit of future generations.
As part of the African Union, we continue to work within the framework of Agenda 2063 to ensure the political and economic renewal of our continent based on good political and economic governance.
Working together with sister countries in the SADC region we have continued to consolidate regional integration efforts which will add momentum towards building united, prosperous and better Africa.
Inspired by the vision of providing African solutions to African problems we remain part of efforts by SADC, the African Union, regional economic communities and the UN to help bring peace and stability in those countries afflicted by conflict. These include the Kingdom of Lesotho, Burundi and South Sudan.
As part of the family of nations and working together with like-minded countries, we have persisted in our efforts to bring about a fundamental transformation of the United Nations and other institutions of global governance.
Our country participated at the highest level in the COP 21 Climate Change Conference in Paris, France.
We have begun to feel the effects of climate change, which is impacting on water security, food security and economic development.
We welcome every resolution taken by the international community to limit the effects of climate change on humanity as a whole and developing countries in particular.
South Africa was honoured to recently host the first Forum for China-Africa Cooperation held on on our soil as well as the African Union Summit earlier this year.
The hosting of events of these magnitudes, coupled with the world-class infrastructure at our disposal, is an expression of the confidence that the world has in our country and its people.
We take this opportunity to thank you all for your contributions in making South Africa a better place for all who live in it.
We extend our thoughts and prayers to those families who lost loved ones during the year. We share in your pain and sorrow.
We salute our men and women in uniform who toil day and night to assure us of peace and security in our homes and communities.
We thank our national sporting teams for continuing to proudly hoist our national flag in international sporting events.
Your contribution to nation-building and social cohesion is deeply appreciated.
As we embark on journeys to our various destinations let us ensure we observe the rules of the road. Arrive alive must be a way of life for all South Africans.
I thank you.
*Issued by The Presidency