Improving the quality of life of the South African people, especially the poor and the working class, remains a key priority of government, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.
“Significant strides” were made in 2017 in fighting poverty, inequality, and unemployment, he said in his new year’s statement.
“Despite serious challenges on the economic front, together we made substantial progress in providing basic services such as electricity, housing, roads, water and sanitation, health care, social grants, as well as accessible education.
“On the economic front, following a turbulent 2017, we are pleased that we emerged from the technical recession. The country’s gross domestic product began to show welcome improvements. In the new year we will need to put extra efforts together to reignite the economy and promote growth and also to make it inclusive and beneficial to all,” he said.
The programme of “radical socio-economic transformation” would be the main focus of government in 2018 and would “inform the delivery of our programmes”.
Through the industrial policy action plan and other programmes, South Africa would continue to promote investments, particularly in key strategic sectors such as energy, manufacturing, transport, telecommunications, water, tourism, the oceans economy, mining, and agriculture.
“We will also continue to lay a firm foundation for greater growth through our infrastructure roll-out programme. We will also intensify investment in education in 2018. We must work together to eradicate crime, drugs and substance abuse, as well as violence against women and children in our communities,” he said.
The year 2018 marked the centenary of former president Nelson Mandela. “We should use the year to celebrate his contribution and promote unity and togetherness in our country. Let us work together to build a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and prosperous South Africa.
“Where we disagree, let us do so with dignity and respect and promote unity and cohesion as we build our country together. As we enjoy our festive holidays, let us do so responsibly, and promote the safety and security of all in our country together. We also wish the matric class of 2017 success as they await their National Senior Certificate results. We wish you a happy, fruitful, and prosperous new year, 2018,” Zuma said.