As this year draws to a close, it is important to reflect on the many significant moments that defined this year. 2012 was an extraordinary year for our country.
2012 will be remembered for many events, both positive and worrying.
And it will shape the South Africa that enters 2013.
2012 will be remembered for the textbook saga, for Mangaung, for the opposition's call for a vote of no confidence in the President, for the delay on a Youth Wage Subsidy, for the State's expenditure in Nkandla - and the IFP's by-election victory in President's Zuma's hometown. Marikana will live in our nation's memory forever.
It will be remembered for our country's downward spiral of growing unemployment, shrinking of our industrial basis for lack of genuine competitiveness, growing social unrest and protest, and the consequent reduction in fixed domestic and foreign investment and credit downgrading, all of which are leading to the country becoming poorer.
2012 proved that the road of leadership is a difficult one to walk.
Corruption is one of our country's worst and most pressing tragedies as it impoverishes the poor, impairs delivery, distorts moral values and undermines all sectors of government and civil society alike.
Unfortunately, in our country, a few prominent leaders have embraced corruption and have tainted the relationship between leaders and the people we serve. Many South Africans now see leaders, particularly political leaders, as rich, unethical, uncaring and self-interested.
That perception is to the detriment of our country.
2012 was an extraordinary year for the IFP as well. Our 2012 national elective conference looked at many of these issues facing our country and charted the way forward, for we recognise the crucial role the IFP has to play on the road ahead for our country. I am proud to lead a Party that serves South Africa without self-interest and with its principles intact. I am also proud to work with so many South Africans who support the vision and principles of the IFP. I see their support growing and I recognise within it the cry of our nation for moral leadership and integrity.
Another IFP triumph in 2012 was the legal victory of Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini MP, who successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Rules of Parliament and opened the way for individual MPs from any party to table proposed legislation in Parliament.
As we approach the end of this year, I wish to thank every South African who has supported me and my Party, and everyone who has supported greater integrity in our country, not only through words, but through personal commitment.
As we enter 2013, let us brace ourselves for a whirlwind year of many challenges and hard work ahead. Our people need jobs. They need education. They need electricity. They need protection from crime.
They need leaders they can respect. They need help getting ahead in very difficult circumstances so that the opportunities of a democratic South Africa will not simply be pretty words on a tattered poster.
In 2013, let us do what's right for our country and what's best for our children's future. On behalf of my family and the Party I lead, the Inkatha Freedom Party, I wish all South Africans a happy New Year and best wishes for 2013.
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY