Rally behind 2010 - Zuma

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans to rally around the World Cup as a catalyst for unity.

In his New Year message, the President said the event offered a perfect opportunity to come together in a spirit of unity.

"New Years Day, the 1st of January 2010, marks the beginning of the most important year in our country since 1994," he said.

It should serve as a reminder that there was a lot to celebrate about the country, he said.

"It must be a year in which we put South Africa first, and take forward our collective mission to shape this country into one of the most successful constitutional democracies in the world," Zuma said.

The message comes as South Africa this year will host millions of visitors for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - the biggest single-code sporting event ever to be staged on African soil.

Zuma said political parties, traditional leaders, business, labour, youth, sports bodies, women, media, religious leaders and other sectors should put their efforts together in ensuring the success of the tournament.

"Together as all South Africans, we must make this one of the most successful projects we have ever undertaken as a nation," he said, adding that South Africans must ensure long-lasting benefits for the nation.

The World Cup must revive the spirit of unity as the Rugby World Cup did in 1995.

"As hosts, we must be welcoming and hospitable to the thousands of international visitors and soccer teams. We must all be active ambassadors of our country," he said.

Zuma also urged citizens to get behind Bafana Bafana. "We must support our national team, Bafana Bafana. With the nation behind them, they will perform well and make us proud," he said.

The President said South Africans should also use the New Year to renew their commitment to national unity.

"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."