DA leader Mmusi Maimane. FILE PHOTO: African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - One of South Africa's priorities in the year ahead should be to build an economy that is inclusive, ensure everyone is safe in their homes and deliver better basic services, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane said on Monday.

In a New Year message, Maimane said South Africa "must belong to all who live in it regardless of race, gender or the circumstances of their birth".

"This is crucial as we go into an election where many will seek to divide," he said.

"We must unite as South Africans against the efforts of those who seek to divide us."

Race has long been a thorny and divisive issue in South Africa, a legacy of decades of apartheid rule which discriminated against non-whites.

In a country where unemployment runs at over 27 percent of the labour force, Maimane also said the economy must accommodate matriculants leaving school in 2018 "and inspire hope to all people".

"Let 2019 be a year where we build a future for all future generations," he said.

African News Agency (ANA)