SA deputy president and new ANC leader, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Joahnnesburg- South Africa's Deputy President  Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently took over the reins of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), on Sunday spread some Christmas cheer with his positive message promising economic growth and a society in which everyone is safe, secure and feels valued.

Ramaphosa, who succeeded President Jacob Zuma at the helm on the ANC on Monday last week after defeating former African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in a closely fought poll, called on South Africans to put a shoulder to the wheel.

"We must enter the New Year determined to redouble our efforts to build a society in which all are safe, secure and feel valued," said the new ANC president.

"We need to work together as social partners to focus on our economy by removing all the obstacles to investment and move South Africa to a higher level of growth. The signs of recovery are there and we must all do all we can to ensure that we turn our economy around."

He said South Africans must remain focused on building a better society by implementing our National Development Plan with energy as well as with great urgency.

"Our Vision 2030 remains the blueprint for inclusive growth, social cohesion and prosperity for all. Under this plan we will continue to develop skills that can help our country realise its developmental goals and address labour market issues," said the deputy president, adding "we need more skilled managers, professionals, technicians, engineers and artisans".

Ramaphosa encouraged students who wrote matric and will receive their national senior certificate results in the next few days to investigate the possibilities that await them at universities, Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges as well as community colleges.  

"Our challenges are many, but we have an even greater number of achievements to celebrate as South Africans," said Ramaphosa.

He said it was a special honour for him "to join you on the eve of Christmas 2017, at a time when all of us are devoting our attention to family and friends and celebrating the season of goodwill and peace. 2017 was made special by our celebration of the centenary year of our liberation leader, Oliver Reginald Tambo".

The ANC president said Tambo embodied "our constitutional values of democracy, human rights and social justice. His personal qualities of selflessness, integrity, trustworthiness, empathy and diligence should inspire all of us to follow in his footsteps as we work to unite our society and eradicate abuse, racism, sexism and prejudice".

He said 2017 was a year in which, despite progress in many important areas that South Africans have continued to see the devastating effect of unemployment on individuals, families and communities.

"That is why, as we reflect on the achievements and challenges of the last year, we must reaffirm our determination to build an economy that serves all our people," said the ANC leader. 

"During our 23 years of democracy, government, social partners and active citizens have created a South Africa where the provision of social services and amenities has helped to confront the legacy of apartheid. New schools, hospitals, clinics, factories, bridges, dams and airports tell the story of a South Africa that has indeed moved forward."

He urged South Africans to use this festive period to reach out to needy members of "our families and communities" and to "enjoy this festive season without causing harm to ourselves or others".

African News Agency (ANA)