Address by the Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the National Conference of the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM)
27 Nov 2009
Chairperson of the Moral Regeneration Movement, Father Mkhatshwa;
The Board of Directors of the MRM;
CEO of MRM, Ms Zandile Mdhladhla;
Ladies and gentlemen
I thank you for inviting me to this important event in our national calendar, the national conference of the Moral Regeneration Movement. On this occasion, we are given a platform to reaffirm our collective responsibility to dedicate our efforts to a revitalisation of what is good and positive in our society.
Therefore, from this important gathering we should emerge with concrete measures to deal with social ills that threaten to derail our programmes of building a caring and peaceful society. It places upon us the responsibility to spread an important message which derives from our Constitution regarding the respect for human life and dignity.
The urgency of this conference is underscored by certain recent incidents that took place in our country. The unsavoury events that occurred in the Western Cape at De Doorns about two weeks back cast a dark stain on our moral fibre.
Just as the 2008 attacks on foreign nationals were acts of immorality and criminality, so were these latest acts by some members of our communities.
As government, we frown upon such acts and take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to upholding and respecting the rights of every person living within the borders of our beautiful country. Once again, we take this opportunity to reiterate our indivisible humanity and call upon all our people at once to respect and defend human rights as enshrined in our constitution.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we know, morality begins with respect for all of humanity, regardless of people’s place of origin, race, class or religion. In the African context, one of the highest tests of morality is how we treat strangers in our homes and in our communities.
Similarly, as we condemn what happened at De Doorns, we must equally condemn the tendency among some of the Hex River Valley farmers and indeed any other employers in our country, be they black or white, who exploit foreign nationals by reducing them to cheap labour.
I believe nothing ever justifies the exploitation of a person's vulnerability for selfish financial ends. Business without morality is odious to the extreme, as indeed is any undertaking lacking in moral content.
It is this lesson that the revered Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi sought to impart to the world when he outlined the following as the seven social ills:
"Politics without principle,
Pleasure without conscience,
Wealth without work,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity and
Worship without sacrifice" (quoted from, Young India, 22-10-1925)
These are the values that in our struggle for freedom we sought to inculcate. In the same vein, our Bill of Rights gives bearing to these values. As a result, our country has had occasion to evolve such seminal institutions as the Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality and the Public Protector, among others.
These important establishments continue to advance the central issues such as accountability, equality as well as the promotion and protection of human rights. Our announcement a fortnight ago, of a special committee to focus on corruption, led by Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, is a tangible act of instilling morality in our governance structures.
This committee will undertake its work conscious of the need to restore public confidence in government and to deal decisively with those who bring shame to our commitment to building a better life for all of our people. Perhaps the most explicit statement to underpin government's commitment to upholding morality was in the launch of the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) in 2002.
Since then the MRM has distinguished itself as a campaign that emphasises the role of every province, metro, municipality, district, village, township and each local area in our struggle to reclaim ubuntu/botho, lerato, tshepo, tlhompho le kutlwano.
To this extent, it remains our national flagship campaign to restore our people’s belief in and practice of moral uprightness, tolerance for difference, ethically sound lifestyles, good neighbourliness and civic responsibilities that go a long way to building a caring and humane society.
We should strive to build a society where crime and corruption, theft and graft, child abuse, violence against women and children and other social pathologies are viewed with indignation and treated with the repugnance they rightly deserve.
After all, it is through these objectives that the MRM evolved the Charter of Positive Values, a document which – as suggested by the theme of this conference – personifies hope for South African morality. When the Charter was adopted in July 2008, we took collective responsibility to implement both the spirit and the letter of that seminal document in our daily actions at home, in schools, at work and wherever we gather as people.
Without abrogating our responsibilities as individuals, we acknowledged our common debt to the creation of a morally just society based on the principle articulated by Martin Luther King Jnr, that: "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity" (The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. 1987, page 3).
Morality is a responsibility of us all. Individually, we have to be accountable for our decisions, actions or behaviour. In this regard, failure can be poisonous not only to us as individuals but to society as a whole, including generations to come.
For example, moral conduct as it applies to Sexually Transmitted Infections is ultimately expressed through individual consciences and actions, and lapses in this regard have national repercussions. The Charter of Positive Values is therefore a critical reminder of our individual debt to the common good. It is a forceful expression of the old-time aphorism that I am because you are, and that you cannot be unless I am.
Our individual commitment to the collective wellbeing makes it possible for us to place ourselves in the shoes of the next person, and to be able to determine the impact of our behaviour and actions towards other people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Even in the case of what has become commonly known as service delivery protests, we do have to acknowledge the painful fact that some of them stem from moral lapses on the part of some of our public representatives and officials.
However, the kind of violence that accompanies such protests also highlights the need to foster the culture of tolerance and harmony in our communities.
To us, as government, the deployment of public resources for local development is a moral duty upon which we could never compromise.
At the same time, our commitment to morality must find expression in our efforts to ensure the material and economic well-being of our people, especially the poorest of the poor.
Two days ago government has once again, through the Ministry of Women and Children launched the 16 Days of No Violence against Women and Children.
We all know that the issue of family and gender relations is by nature a moral issue. We are also aware that our society does have intolerably high levels of violence against women and children.
Oftentimes, these violent acts against women and children are carried out by people known to the victims, relatives, and friends and so on. In this regard, government calls on our people, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other social stakeholders, to work towards the elimination of this scourge that scars our nation.
Let us also make these 16 days gender and child-violence free and indeed, build on this achievement to entrench values of respect and equality in our national psyche.
In conclusion, I am confident that the resolutions of this conference will take our nation and its commitment to morality to a higher level.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
27 November 2009
Source: The Presidency (http://www.thepresidency.gov.za)
Issued by: The Presidency
27 Nov 2009
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