Captured South African journalist Shiraaz Mohamed is alive in Syria and could be home within a month.
We have come to the end of yet another eventful and in some ways challenging year; a year that represents another critical milestone along our development as a young democratic nation.
No matter how we evaluate 2011, we can come to one conclusion.
We are ending the year better off than we were back in January, and certainly far better off than we were 17 years ago.
Although challenges remain, each passing year, our country moves forward, towards a better life for all.
We have made visible progress in reducing serious and violent crimes, in improving health care, rural development, education, social security and the general expansion of access to basic services.
We have built strong partnerships for job creation and laid a firm foundation to improve infrastructure development.
We have played a critical role within the African continent, and also through cooperation with both the developed world and the emerging economies of the South, and multilateral organizations.
A major achievement for the country was the successful hosting of the United Nations COP17 Climate Change Conference in Durban.
The four political agreements reached at the COP 17 conference are accepted as a significant advance in climate change negotiations.
In July we had the pleasure of hosting the International Olympic Committee General Assembly meeting.
The two events further enhanced our country's image as first class organizers of mega international events.
We participated in major international sporting events through the Springboks, Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana and our netball team Amantombazane amongst others.
While luck was not on our side, we nevertheless demonstrated that the passion and pride we share as compatriots when supporting our teams, is sometimes more important than the numbers on the scoreboard.
I will elaborate more on these activities and others in the evening of the 9th of February 2012, during the State of the Nation Address in Parliament.
Looking ahead to the New Year, let me urge each South African to make 2012 the year of unity and the celebration of the country's rich political heritage.
We have an opportunity to showcase our country's remarkable successes, given the historic celebration of the centenary of the ruling party, the African National Congress, on the 8th of January 2012.
A number of Heads of State and Government, Eminent Persons and friends of South Africa from the continent and other parts of the world are expected to converge in Mangaung in the Free State province to mark this historic occasion.
They are coming to South Africa to congratulate not just the ruling party, but all South Africans on the strides that the country and its people have made in destroying colonial oppression and apartheid, and promoting reconciliation and nation building.
Our country proved to the world that it is possible to rise above institutionalized racism, hatred, colonial oppression and apartheid, and build on its ruins a modern democracy which enshrines justice, human rights and dignity.
Our founding President, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, reminds us constantly that millions of South Africans deserve praise for the role they played in bringing about freedom and democracy, for they contributed in various ways.
We must therefore use 2012 to celebrate our individual and collective contributions to the attainment of freedom and democracy in our country, all of us, black and white, united in our diversity.
We must also use the year to thank the millions in Africa and the world who took interest in our country, and helped us to make South Africa the free, non-racial, non-sexist democratic society we now live in.
The struggle for a better life continues and it needs all of us to work together, united in our diversity.
Let us make a concerted effort to recognize and highlight what is good and great about our country in 2012, and play our part, to make South Africa succeed.
I wish all South Africans, and visitors to our land, a very happy and prosperous 2012!
I thank you.