In delivering the government's Christmas message, Deputy President David Mabuza wished for "peace and co-existence among all the people", while acknowledging "certain inconveniences visited upon us by a less than predictable energy supply".
"As a people of this great nation, we have much to celebrate as we must reflect on the state of our public affairs. 2019 has been a tough year, as our economy continued to strain, leading to job losses," Mabuza said.
"We have experienced certain inconveniences visited upon us by a less than predictable energy supply, causing power outages in our homes and areas of work. This has led to an unfortunate disruption of our daily lives. We commit to change this situation for the better.
"We further experienced severe drought in some provinces that have affected agricultural production and impacting on food security and jobs in the sector. In a similar vein, there are many South Africans who lost their homes and belongings due to floods."
Mabuza said these contrasting natural disasters bore testament to climate change.
"As the government, we will continue to ensure that the impact of these changes is mitigated."
He said despite these challenges, it had also been "a year of major successes that bring a sense of pride and nationhood", citing the general elections in May and the government's comprehensive programme against HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted infections.
"On socio-cultural front, the Soweto Gospel Choir won the Grammy for the Best World Music Album, Miss Zozibini Tunzi won the Miss Universe title, 17-year-old Kealeboga Matsafu was crowned Miss Teen Queen of the Globe for 2019, our netball team was crowned the 2019 Africa champions, the Springboks brought home the Webb Ellis Cup, and the Under-23 football team qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games," Mabuza said.
"Just as we celebrate these human achievements, in the same breath, we are mindful of the blight of racism, tribalism, violence against women, xenophobia and homophobia that continue to befall our nation.
"These social ills are in conflict with our values as South Africans. They are an antithesis of a South Africa and a society that we seek to build, in line with our strategic objective of our national liberation movement."
He said those who "perpetuate these acts of violence and abuse against women, children, older persons and all the vulnerable among us" should be isolated from society.
"We are calling for peace and co-existence among all the people. Our call is for tolerance, especially to those communities grappling with finding peace and resolution to their conflicts. To them, we extend our hand of friendship. We wish them wisdom and strength to navigate their political challenges that have led them to conflict and the displacement of people," Mabuza added.
He said politicians should work together for the good of the country and their positions were not for posturing and point-scoring.
'A revolutionary Merry Christmas'
Meanwhile, the EFF has wished "the people of South Africa, Africa and the world a revolutionary Merry Christmas".
"A revolutionary Christmas is one steeped in the founding message symbolised by the very occasion of the birth of Christ; a baby born in a stable, in a manger, to stranded migrant parents on transit to partake in a tax census," EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement.
He added therefore, the birth of the Christian Messiah "immediately identifies with the poor and landless who are without access to health care, shelter, food, water and other basic needs".
"It is the duty of revolutionaries to mobilise this progressive reading of this symbolism against the capitalist, consumerist, egotistical, selfish, opulent performance of riches that has become the order of the day during festive seasons," Ndlozi said.
"We therefore call on everyone to partake in the progressive revolutionary spirit of generosity and selflessness that Christmas truly represents. Let no one among us be stranded. Let there be no foreigner, isolated and pushed to live with animals in a stable; Let there be humanity, Ubuntu and dignity for all."
'We bow down and lay our challenges before our Heavenly Father'
In his Christmas and New Year's message, FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said politics created great uncertainties "that stir up doubts in people's hearts". He referred to the issue of the expropriation of land without compensation as an example.
"More and more people are asking themselves the following questions: What future do we have here? Are we safe? Will we be able to survive in this economy? Will I keep my job? Some people are already unemployed and are left wondering if they will be able to get a job in order to provide for their family," Groenewald said in a statement.
"Amid all these uncertainties, it is wonderful to know that just before the year comes to an end, we have Christmas. The message of Christmas - that God so loved us that He sent his only begotten Son to the world to save us - is encouraging and we can take heart in knowing that there is always hope with the Lord.
"So, in all humility, we bow down and lay our challenges before our Heavenly Father because according to the Bible, all goes well for those who hope in the Lord. This is also what the FF Plus believes."
He said 2020 would come with its own challenges and opportunities.
"We will overcome through hard work and diligence."
'A joyful, peaceful and heavenly blessed Christmas period'
Parliament's presiding officers, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo, wished "all Christians a joyful, peaceful and heavenly blessed Christmas period" in a joint statement.
"Christmas is among the significant days marked on the Christian calendar and a period driven by the spirit of caring, believing, love and giving, as part of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ," read their statement.
"The presiding officers call on all South Africans to make use of this time to extend a hand of kindness, giving and caring to those who are less fortunate."
Modise and Masondo pointed to the high traffic volumes that were usually on our roads this time of year and urged all road users to exercise caution.
They also commended all the workers who were working through the festive period.