Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma has wished the nation well ahead of the New Year, saying much progress had been made in the past year in the endeavour to build a better South Africa.
"I wish all South Africans as well as the foreign nationals who live in our country or who are visiting us a wonderful summer, a joyous and safe festive season and a prosperous New Year!
"We made a lot of progress in 2012 as we continued with our mission of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
"We have a good basis to build on. The Census 2011 results indicated an increase in income levels, an improvement in the rollout of basic services and amenities as well as rising education levels.
"At the same time, the Census indicated deep income disparities... In addition, while many more people now have water, electricity, sanitation or housing, there are many more that are still waiting," he said.
As the nation will mark 20 years of freedom and democracy in 2014, the President said much more still had to be done to achieve socio-economic freedom for all.
"We have a long road to travel to prosperity. And we have a plan to get us to that destination - the comprehensive National Development Plan.
"The plan outlines the type of society we should be in 2030, where all will have water, electricity, good health, libraries, good schools, roads, good hospitals and clinics, safety and security, recreational facilities, a growing economy and jobs."
He called on all sectors of society to work with government to help find solutions to the challenges facing the country.
"We also have to build a society in the short term, where problems can be anticipated and resolved peacefully without a tragic outbreak of violence as it happened in Marikana.
"We must build a society in which women and children feel free and safe, with no fear of abuse, rape or any form of violence, and a society in which our animals, especially the rhino, are safe from ruthless poachers. It is possible to achieve that type of society by working together."
Zuma also thanked the nation for the love and support it showed former President Nelson Mandela during his hospitalisation.
"...President Nelson Mandela ... remains an important symbol of our struggle for liberation and of the successful transition from apartheid colonialism to a non-racial and democratic society. We should continue to keep the Mandela family in our thoughts and prayers until Tata has fully recovered."
The President encouraged South Africans to welcome those who will be visiting the country for Afcon 2013 and the BRICS summit, which will be held in March.
"Let us receive Africa with warm hearts and open arms as always!
"In March we will host our friends and allies, the BRICS group of nations in Durban and take forward our partnership for reconstruction and progress."