On New Year’s Day, we express the hope that the country will traverse a path that embodies the aspirations of its citizens. The elections we have just had, a couple of days before the year 2018 passed into the past, should be a means by which those aspirations can be fulfilled.
Our history informs that we are a people who have made it clear at every point that our aspirations for pluralist politics can never be trifled with. In all these decades since 1947 and again since 1971, that determination in us to hold ruling classes to account on the question of democracy has been paramount.
As we welcome the year 2019, it is our hope that our collective yearning for liberal democracy and secular politics will be the underpinning of what we need to do in the days ahead. The general elections we had looked forward to have come and gone. And what we as a nation can do from here on, through the new government which will soon take office, is to reassure ourselves that all the necessary elements of democracy --- rule of law, space for the political opposition, intellectual freedom, transparency and accountability --- will be in full play, indeed will acquire more substance as we move into the future. Since December 1990 we as a people have successfully held on to democracy despite all the buffeting it has been through, not least caused by the political classes, we know that we cannot remain complacent and therefore must constantly be on guard against any attempt to undermine the national cause. Today we need to rebuild the secular political construct which so powerfully guided us to national liberation four and a half decades ago. We have observed that construct getting frayed over the years and even now our religious minorities continue to pay a heavy price for their beliefs.
As we step into a New Year, we must not forget that we still have a hard battle to wage against religious fanaticism --- because the dark elements out to upset social order and undercut morals and values are yet lurking in the bushes. The government has been going hard after them. This position must be maintained without let-up. In education, the focus must be on quality rather than scores. The emphasis from now on, therefore, must be on the creation of a knowledge-based society which adds to the process of digitization we have inaugurated for ourselves.
Our priorities must be defined and strategies shaped to implement them.