High-profile corruption cases reflect South Africa’s need for moral regeneration. Mahadi Buthelezi reports on a joint initiative by the Catholic Business Forum and the Moral Regeneration Movement — a civil society organization — to call on citizens and government to envision a society characterized by honesty and integrity.
Active citizenship involves recognizing poor stewardship of the country’s resources and holding political and business leaders accountable for their actions. The recent spate of arrests by South Africa’s specialised crime unit, the Hawks, of high-profile businesspeople with links to political power point to a long trajectory of moral decay in our society.
Global Ethics Day, an annual event promoted by the US-based Carnegie Council for Ethics in International affairs and celebrated annually in October, encourages businesses and individuals around the world to explore the crucial role of ethics in their professional and daily lives. Within the context the relentless news reporting on South Africa’s war on corruption, this year’s celebration is particularly relevant. It encourages citizens to reflect on the values and ethics that guide South Africa’s political and economic governance.
Ethics and good governance promote business sustainability and growth. As such, good ethics should be a part of every business’ strategy and corporate mission. One of the biggest challenges, however, is to inculcate ethical and moral decision-making in business activities to reverse the moral decay in South Africa and find long-lasting and effective solutions to reverse the current arrests and litigation against companies and individuals who have broken the law.
Partnership to promote moral renewal
The Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM), a civil society-driven initiative that has the support of government, works to promote moral renewal and a more ethical society. In particular, the MRM engages citizens and pays special attention to development, social cohesion and nation building.
This year, the MRM partnered with the Catholic Business Forum (CBF) to celebrate the 7th Global Ethics Day on 21 October. The MRM and the CBF issued a joint statement declaring their unwavering commitment to a society that uphold the “ideals and ethical values that unite us in our diversity” and which are the founding stones of South Africa’s freedom and democracy.
The statement recognized South Africa’s progression from a past characterized by “inequality and conflict to a society grounded in common citizenship and in pursuit of equality.” The MRM and CBF declared that South Africa’s “diverse journeys and cultures” prompted them to strive for “justice, fairness, nation-building and good governance.” They called on citizens to do the same through the exercise of their individual freedom.
The two organisations committed themselves three actions, namely: promoting responsible freedom, the rule of law and democracy; improving material well-being and economic justice, and upholding honestly, integrity and loyalty. In doing so, they encourage all South Africans to fight against all forms of violence and crime, greed and corruption, and dishonesty to build a society that promotes social values that guide good governance.
In commemorating Global Ethics day, the MRM and CBF urge all members of society to foster ethical values and decisions in their professional and daily lives. They call on the government to uphold these values and the country’s legislation to enhance the importance of ethical acts and practices in society.
In conclusion, the joint statement recalls the words of Nelson Mandela in which he warned that “corruption, criminality, tax evasion, venality, theft, disrespect for human life, fraud, rape, the abuse of women and children, unbridled self-gratification, drunkenness, extortion and family breakdown, much of it touched by violence, [are] the outward forms of a diseased social climate which affects all of us.”