New Year Message of 31 December 2000, 31 December 2000

Fellow South Africans,
Our dear guests and friends who are visiting us from other lands:

We are at the end of the year 2000.

As we begin the year 2001, on behalf of the government and in my own name, I am honoured to convey to you all, the Season's Greetings and our best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

As we began this year, we said that the year 2001 should, for us, mark the commencement of the African Century.

There are others elsewhere in our common world who have also declared their own intention to claim the century we are about to begin as their own.

But for us as South Africans the determination to make this an African Century means many things in terms of what we ourselves must do.

Even as we wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year, we known that there are millions of people in our own country who suffer from poverty and deprivation.

There are many who, through no fault of their own, are without jobs and are forced to beg and depend on others for their livelihood, with all the negative consequences this has on their dignity as human beings.

There are many who are sick, some of whom will succumb to preventable diseases.

Contrary to our collective and fervent-wish, there are others who have been and will be exposed to crimes o violence.

These will include abused children, women who will be brutally raped and beaten up, people who will be robbed, assaulted and murdered in our towns and cities, our villages and our farms.

Millions among us will continue to be exposed to humiliation and suffering as a result of racial and gender discrimination.

Others elsewhere in the world will continue to sustain a pessimistic view of our country and our Continent, seeing no possibility that we can overcome these and other problems.

But we who are truly of this Continent, with no other home but South Africa and Africa, know that through our combined efforts, black and white, men and women, youth, workers, managers, professionals and intellectuals, religious and traditional leaders, workers in arts and culture, sports people, elected representative and others, we will win.

Even as we worked during this year to advance towards the national goal of a better life for all, we achieved many successes for which I congratulate you all.

Let me mention only some of these.

On the political front we scored an important victory as we held peaceful and successful local government elections that have brought government closer to the people and increased the capacity of government to respond to your needs and aspirations.

Our economy continued to improve in its performance, attaining rates of growth that were higher than expected, positioning itself to perform even better this coming year, with increased prospects for the creation of a larger number of jobs.

Our congratulations also go to our young people who passed their matriculation examinations, with the results showing a marked improvement over previous years.

This critically important success in the field of education, for which we also thank our Ministers of Education, the provincial governments, principals, teachers, parents and administrators, show what we can achieve with commitment and dedication.

We also salute all our sportpeople who performed extremely well at the Sydney Olympics and the Sydney Paralympics as well as other events at home, in Africa and globally.

Our security forces have also continued to do us proud as they have worked selflessly to increase the safety and security of all our citizens, to protect our constitutional order and to contribute to democracy, peace and stability on our Continent as a whole.

Thus men and women from our National Defence Force have been selected to serve with United Nations peacekeepers in the Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea and may be called upon to assist in Sierra Leone.

None of us will ever forget the extraordinary humanitarian work our Air Force id to rescue 15 000 flood stricken Mozambicans. Many of us will not be aware of the subsequent work done by our Air Force to distribute ballot papers in Mozambique, as our contribution to that country's efforts to consolidate its democracy.

We also salute that distinguished South African, Nelson Mandela, who has spared no effort to help bring about peace to the sister republic of Burundi and wish him success in his difficult task.

The New Year will continue to confront us with the challenge to make our own contribution, however small to advance Africa's cause. None of us should shirk his responsibility wherever it may face us, whether in the Congo, Zimbabwe, the Comoros or elsewhere.

At home, we have also not sought to avoid even difficult questions such as the continuing struggle to build a non-racial and non-sexist society.

In this regard, I would like to congratulate the Human Rights Commission for brining all of us together in a National Conference against Racism.

I am convinced that both the process leading up to and the outcome of this important Conference have created a firm base for us to continue our advance towards ending the scourge of racism in our country.

As we participated in such events as the Community Builder of the Year Awards, the Export and Technology Awards and the Education Awards, none of us could avoid being moved by the talent that resides among our people and the work going on throughout the country to make ours a winning nation.

The rest of the world has also continued to express its confidence in our future in many ways that should encourage us to persist in the pursuit of our objective of the construction of a people- Centre society.

As an expression of that international confidence, this year we will be hosting the United Nations World Conference on Racism with the expectation by the peoples of the world that we will make an important contribution to the international struggle against racism.

South Africa has also been chosen to host the vital 2003 Global Conference on Environment and sustainable Development, "Rio+10". In this context, we must mention the fact that we were also honoured this year with the designation of the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park as a World Heritage Site, the fourth such site in our country.

In the year 2002, we will host the Summit Meeting of the OAU, the Organisation of African Unity.

Whatever our difficulties as a country and a people, we have every right to congratulate ourselves for a year that has given us hope and strengthened our conviction that even better days lie ahead of us.

I am greatly moved and encouraged by the many South Africans and foreigners I meet, both black and white, who constantly convey the message - we know there are problems, but we can all see that South Africa is doing well. This is the spirit that must inspire us as we begin the Year 2001, as we commence our long journey into a Happy and Prosperous African Century.

What we must achieve as we advance into this year is visible progress towards a better life for all.

I am certain that we will, indeed, further raise the standard of living and the quality of life of many of our people in both rural and urban areas.

I am certain also that we will continue further to expand the frontiers of safety and security within which to achieve that better life for all, bringing down the levels of crime and violence in our society.

I am also convinced that more and more among us will see themselves as other Community Builders and engage in the common national effort to build the new South Africa that is our common dream.

I also know that acting together with our brothers and sisters throughout Africa, who value the contribution we are making towards Africa's Renaissance, and supported by the billions of people throughout the world who wish our country and Continent well, we will make new advances towards the attainment of a happy future for the children of Africa.

Once again, the high number of deaths on our roads has marred this season of peace and goodwill. This criminal irresponsibility must come to an end.

All of us must respond to the message - Arrive Alive! and behave in a manner that values the lives of all road-users. Let there be no more deaths and injuries on our roads.

Fellow South Africans:

At our inauguration last year we said our country was at that time in its life which could be described as the dawning of the dawn - mahube a naka tsa kgomo.

Gradually the sun is rising over our land bringing with it hope, laughter and joy.

We know also that all we have seen so far and brought about with our own efforts is but - 'n voorsmakie van die eerste oes.

All we need to do, which I know we will do, is to persist in and redouble our efforts.

A happy and prosperous New Year to you all! God bless Africa.

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