4 January 2010
Friday 1 January marked the beginning of the most important year in South Africa since 1994, President Jacob Zuma said in his New Year message, calling on all South Africans to work together make the 2010 Fifa World Cup “one of the most successful projects we have ever undertaken as a nation”.
South Africans made history in 1994, when the country held its first democratic elections, Zuma said.
“We embarked on a phase of reconciliation and forgiveness, and worked hard to build one nation, united in its diversity … We have proven to the world that it is possible to emerge from a horrible conflict, and work together … to build a successful, peaceful, stable, multiparty constitutional democracy.”
The year 2010 “is our next critical moment,” the President said. “We have won the greatest marketing opportunity of our time, the rights to host the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.”
Hosting the biggest single-code sporting event in the world should revive the spirit of unity and patriotism in country, Zuma said, “in the same manner that the 1995 Rugby World Cup brought the nation together.
“The year 2010 must be the year in which for the first time, we all communicate positive messages about our country to the world – the successes and possibilities. We have to put the culture of negativity behind us.
“We can already see the fruits of the tournament,” Zuma said. “We have new magnificent stadia, roads and new-look international airports.
“Through the major boost to the construction industry, many of our people obtained work and training opportunities, and this helped to reduce the impact of the recession.
“Working together we must ensure that the tournament enhances our country’s global competitiveness. It must contribute to long-term economic growth and the creation of decent jobs.”
Zuma urged South Africans to be welcoming and hospitable to the thousands of international tourists and football fans set to descend on the country in June and July – and to support the country’s national soccer team, Bafana Bafana.
“Most importantly, we must make 2010 an exciting and most enjoyable year for all of us. Happy New Year and Happy 2010 Soccer World Cup to you all!”
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