RET will be main focus of govt in 2018 - Jacob Zuma

President says free higher education must be beginning of a skills revolution in our country


Fellow South Africans

We have come to an end of a very eventful and productive year, which we had dedicated to our leader, the late Oliver Reginald Tambo.

The improvement of the quality of life of our people, especially the poor and the working class, remains a key priority of government, as we work to achieve the type of society that OR Tambo fought for. 

In pursuit of this mission, significant strides were made in 2017, in fighting poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Despite serious challenges on the economic front, together we made substantial progress in providing basic services such as electricity, housing, roads, water and sanitation, health care, social grants as well as accessible education.

On the economic front, following a turbulant 2017, we are pleased that we emerged from the technical recession.

The country’s GDP began to show welcome improvements.

 In the New Year, we will need to put extra efforts together, to reignite the economy and promote growth and also to make it inclusive and beneficial to all. 

The programme of Radical Socio-Economic Transformation will thus be the main focus of government in the year 2018 and it will inform the delivery of our programmes.

Through our Industrial Policy Action Plan and other programmes, South Africa will continue to promote investments particularly in key strategic sectors such as energy, manufacturing, transport, telecommunications, water, tourism, the oceans economy, mining and agriculture.

We will also continue to lay a firm foundation for greater growth through our infrastructure rollout programme. 

We will also intensify investment in education in 2018.

We have already over the years expanded access to free education for children from poor households.

More than nine million children attend no fee schools, which represents at least 80 percent of our schools.

We will continue to eliminate mud schools and inappropriate school structures, replacing them with state-of-the-art buildings, especially in rural areas and other neglected communities. 

We announced the provision of free higher education for young people at universities and colleges who come from poor households earlier this month.

The intervention must be the beginning of a skills revolution in our country, in pursuit of the radical socio-economic transformation programme.


We must work harder to build a truly caring society in 2018.

We must work together to eradicate crime, drugs and substance abuse as well as violence against women and children in our communities. 

The year 2018 marks the centenary of the late President Nelson Mandela.

We should use the year to celebrate his contribution and promote unity and togetherness in our country.

Let us work together to build a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Where we disagree, let us do so with dignity and respect and promote unity and cohesion as we build our country together. 

As we enjoy our festive holidays, let us do so responsibly, and promote the safety and security of all in our country together.

We also wish the Matric Class of 2017 success as they await their National Senior Certificate results.

We wish you a happy, fruitful and prosperous New Year, 2018!

I thank you.

Issued by the Presidency, 31 December 2017