31 December 2015, Johannesburg – The year 2016 is hours away and, when I reflect on 2015, I am filled with pride at being a citizen of our amazing country.
When analysts and historians look at the history of our democracy, 2015 will go down as the year when citizens stood up to call on lawmakers, politicians and leaders to build the country we want. It was the year when we had to, collectively, confront serious issues about our democracy including the symbols that best reflect our nation, the way in which we relate to each other as citizens of the country and the continent and how to go about empowering young people to develop the skills and resources they will need as leaders of the future.
We saw active citizenship come to the fore as a reality rather than as a slogan. Technology and new media have enabled thousands of people to coalesce around issues physically and virtually. Despite the turbulence of the year, it has really been exciting and has inspired new ways of engagement in our country.
What must now be asked is how do we harness this spirit going forward? Active citizenship is the essence of democracy. A democracy is built and protected by all citizens, not just government. For a democracy to flourish, we must see constant engagement, and action, on issues that affect a nation. Democracy by its nature, knows no hierarchy and is not owned by any sector of society. In 2016, Brand South Africa calls on all citizens of our country to continue to play your part by engaging with issues that affect our country.
One of the fundamental freedoms of living in a democracy is the right to vote and this is one which thousands of South Africans have spared neither life nor limb to fight for. It is a right that must be honoured and protected by all eligible citizens. And this is best done by registering to vote and then casting your vote for the leaders of your choice. In 2016 we will have an opportunity to vote in the Local Government Elections through which we can choose the leaders who will directly impact on the quality of our communities on a daily basis.
In 2016, I also invite citizens to fly the South African flag proudly as we have in previous years. Our country is well known for its hospitality, friendliness and welcoming nature. Our sports teams drive pride and patriotism particularly when our country is, amongst others, successfully represented on an international stage. Our cities are building strong brands that support the nation brand and are receiving recognition for their work. South Africa remains an attractive investment destination and our manufacturing sector also contributes positively to our national reputation.
The brand of our country is built by all citizens playing their part towards a common goal. Let the common goal be for our country to be recognised as a globally competitive nation that is an attractive and sought after destination. Slogans cannot achieve this. We must, as citizens of our country, drive this agenda to build the country we want.
I urge all citizens in 2016 to focus on building the country we want in a constructive manner. I look forward to you playing your part to move South Africa forward. And I thank you for continuing to inspire change.
I wish you, your families and loved ones a year filled with success and happiness. Best wishes.
Mr Kingsley Makhubela