President Jacob Zuma on Sunday characterised 2017 as eventful and fruitful, while saying radical transformation was on the cards for next year.

“We have come to an end of a very eventful and productive year,” the president said in a New Year’s statement issued by his office.

When it came to the economy, Zuma described it as having been a “turbulent 2017”, yet, said that “we are pleased that we emerged from the technical recession”.

“The country’s GDP began to show welcome improvements.”

Next year, “extra efforts together” would be needed to “reignite” the economy, ensuring a growth that benefitted all, said the country’s president.

“The programme of radical socio-economic transformation will thus be the main focus of government in the year 2018, and it will inform the delivery of our programmes.”

Zuma said that a key way this transformation would manifest would be through his recent promise of free higher education for poor and working class students at universities and colleges.

“The intervention must be the beginning of a skills revolution in our country, in pursuit of the radical socio-economic transformation programme.”

When it came to basic education, there were also measures needed to improve access for all.

“We will continue to eliminate mud schools and inappropriate school structures, replacing them with state-of-the-art buildings, especially in rural areas and other neglected communities.”

“Significant strides” made in 2017, included those against “poverty, inequality and unemployment,” said Zuma.

Among the successes he noted was progress in providing “electricity, housing, roads, water and sanitation, health care, social grants as well as accessible education”.

Drugs, crime, and violence against women and children were all issues that still needed to be eradicated.

Zuma noted that 2018 would mark the centenary of late former president Nelson Mandela.

“We should use the year to celebrate his contribution and promote unity and togetherness in our country,” said Zuma.

“Where we disagree, let us do so with dignity and respect and promote unity and cohesion as we build our country together.”

Zuma ended by wishing all South Africans a 2018 that would be “happy, fruitful and prosperous”.—News24

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