New Year Message of President Thabo Mbeki, 31 December 2004

Fellow South Africans:

We have come to the end of an eventful year. Once again, the time has come that I should, on behalf of our government, wish all of you a successful and a happy New Year.

This is supposed to be a festive season. However, like the rest of the world, we have been deeply shocked and moved by the great tragedy that has affected the sister peoples of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Maldives and other Asian countries, as well as some African countries, such as Somalia and Seychelles, caused by the tsunami waves that followed the Indonesian earthquake.

Once more we extend our sincere condolences to all those affected, all of them being countries with which we have strong relations of friendship. We also extend our heartfelt sympathies to our own families and families from other parts of the world who lost their loved ones.

We must and will do everything we can to assist the affected countries to respond to this unprecedented tragedy, as well as join hands with them as they work to recover and rebuild.

Fellow South Africans:

You will have noticed that all the spheres of government, local, provincial and national, have intensified our interventions to improve the effectiveness of the Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign.

As government we are very concerned that too many of our people are dying and sustaining permanent injury unnecessarily, because of accidents on our roads.

I would therefore, once again, appeal to every road user, both drivers and pedestrians, to respect what we all say, that this is a Season of Goodwill.

That goodwill must mean that we take all the necessary measures to protect the health and lives of all road users, including our own.

Our country is also confronted by the serious problem of drug and alcohol abuse. This is one of the primary causes of accidents on our roads, affecting both drivers and pedestrians. We must therefore take the rule very seriously - don't drink and drive!

But this abuse of drugs and alcohol also results in other injuries and deaths because of fights and assaults that occur because some among us have lost the possibility to think and act rationally as a result of drug and alcohol abuse.
Again I appeal to all of us to act in a responsible manner that promotes the safety and security of all our people.
Our success in this regard will be a fitting conclusion to what has been a very good year for our country, the year of our First Decade of Democracy.

And indeed it has been a very good year! In April we held very successful, peaceful, free and fair democratic elections. We demonstrated to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are very serious about this when we say, the people shall govern!

The very fact that this year we marked 10 years of democracy was itself cause for celebration because we showed even the most determined doubting Thomases in our country and elsewhere in the world that, as a people, we have the will, the determination and the wisdom to build a winning nation.

We are truly blessed that this year, countless numbers of people on all continents on our globe joined us to celebrate our First Decade of Democracy.

On Freedom Day, April 27th, when we celebrated our 10th anniversary of liberation, we hosted one of the largest groups of international visitors ever to visit us as we mark our national successes.
But even larger numbers of people participated in similar events in many countries of the world convened to honour our 10th anniversary.

All of us were very pleased and inspired by the tribute the international community paid to our country by awarding us the possibility to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup as well as the Pan African Parliament.
We also rejoiced that so many of our compatriots were also identified by the world community of nations as high achievers. J.M. Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Charlize Theron won a motion picture Oscar.

Our National Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, was elected President of Interpol, the international police federation. Former Minister Valli Moosa is now President of the World Conservation Union, and Dr William Rowland, President of the World Blind Union.

Our economy has also performed very well, establishing itself as one of the best performing economies in the world.
Among other things, it has also brought the good news that we are creating new jobs, though we know that these are not enough, and therefore that we must continue to work to create more job opportunities.

Our government also announced many new funded initiatives focused on reducing poverty in our country and increasing access to a better life for all. This means that during the year of our First Decade of Freedom, our country's hope and conviction that we will defeat the scourge of poverty was further strengthened.

We are therefore well set to achieve new successes in the New Year as we continue to respond to the important challenge of reducing poverty in our country.

Our continent of Africa has also continued to make progress towards solving its political, economic and social problems. We will continue in the New Year to contribute whatever we can towards the achievement of this objective.

In particular in the New Year, we will have to focus on working with the governments and people of the DRC, Burundi and Côte d'Ivoire as they prepare for and hold democratic elections, as well as the Sudanese people as they engage the challenge of post-conflict reconstruction.

We also hope that significant progress will be made towards the solution of the problems confronting the peoples of Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Western Sahara.

As we end one year and begin another, we must commit ourselves to continued peace and stability in our country and friendship and reconciliation among all our people, to further economic and social progress, and new successes in our sustained effort to reduce and eradicate poverty.

We also wish that all other nations throughout the world should enjoy the same blessings.

On this day, our hearts and best wishes also go to all those of our people who will not have the possibility to celebrate the advent of the New Year because of ill health and other problems.

Let me end by congratulating all our young people who passed their Matriculation examinations and hope them the best as they continue to develop themselves further. We will do everything we can to support them in this regard.
Let us all continue to work together this new year to build the caring society we all want our country to be.

A Happy New Year to you all!


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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa