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Date: 30/11/2004
Source: The Presidency
Title: Zuma: National Conference of the Moral Regeneration Movement


Opening Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma to the First National Conference of the Moral Regeneration Movement, Eskom Conference Centre, Midrand

Dr Pallo Jordan, Minister of Arts and Culture
Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Chairperson of the Moral Regeneration Movement and Executive Mayor of Tshwane
Ms Zandile Mdhladhla, CEO of the Moral Regeneration Movement
MPs and MPLs
Representatives of all sectors,
Distinguished delegates

On 18 April 2002, South Africans from all walks of life, representing various sectors and formations, converged on the Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria, to seek solutions to problems of moral decay, and to commonly work to build an ethical society.

The gathering, which launched the Moral Regeneration Movement, was one of the most inspiring contributions to the efforts of building a new South African nation.

We were angry then. A number of despicable acts had taken place, such as the molestation of two babies in the Northern Cape and Gauteng, each less than nine months old. We all agreed that something needed to be done urgently to build a caring, humane ethical society.

After a lot of work of establishing the Movement throughout the country, we are now in a position to come together to reflect on what we have achieved since then, and to look at the road ahead.

I am sure there is no need for me to emphasise how important this conference is, as you are all aware.

We look at this conference with great optimism, as it should chart the way forward, and produce a clear strategy that will locate the MRM at the centre of all moral renewal programmes and activities in the country. The movement should be in a position to unite all initiatives, and monitor progress we are making as various sectors. We believe it is well-placed to play that role.

The MRM was founded on the principles that South Africans are highly moral beings, know the difference between right and wrong, and are appalled by the symptoms of moral decay, which sometimes occur in our country. These include the blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life, the abuse of women and children, crime, substance abuse, lack of respect for the next person and their property and so forth.

The delegates at the founding conference agreed that we needed a national movement that would bring together this common vision, and which would work to promote positive values enshrined in our country’s Constitution.

A lot has been achieved already in the attempts to establish the structures of MRM. There are working committees in all provinces and some municipalities; there is an MRM coordinating team within government; a national framework for programme implementation was developed, the MRM has an office and governance and systems have been put in place.

Public dialogue and debate on moral issues have increased; issue-based partnerships have been forged on many fronts and sector-based moral regeneration initiatives continue to increase in many parts of the country.

For its part, government as a constituent sector of the movement, remains committed to mainstream moral renewal issues in all its programmes and processes.

More than that, government has prioritised these issues in its programme of action for the next five years. Much of its work on moral regeneration will revolve around the social cohesion programme run through the Social Cluster.

You would be aware of the various government programmes with a moral renewal theme.

These include amongst many others:

a. The Values in Education programme run in schools to promote positive values in the Constitution,
b. The rehabilitation of prisoners,
c. Promotion of sports and recreation as well as Choral competitions and various activities of the Departments of Arts and Culture and Sport and Recreation,

a. The Safer Schools campaigns of the South African Police Services,
b. Programmes promoting the Family as an institution which is the rock, upon which communities are founded, run by the Department of Social Development, including its social security programmes.

We can even argue to be taking the campaign beyond our borders into the continent, if you look at our involvement in the regeneration of the African continent.

I must emphasise that while government plays its role, it continuously works with civil society in partnership, as we need to work together in confronting these challenges. We are pleased with the response of civil society.

Various initiatives are in place, in the area of fighting the abuse of women and children, fighting substance abuse, anti-crime initiatives such as those of Business against Crime, and many other projects throughout the country.

We are therefore indeed a country at work regarding moral renewal. This conference will only serve to take this work to an even higher level.

As you deliberate in the Commissions tomorrow, bear in mind the fact that this partnership needs to be strengthened and consolidated, for it to achieve its mission of working to enhance all the positive values that are enshrined in the Constitution.

It should promote the right to life, human dignity, equality, justice, the rights of women and children, freedom from discrimination, and all other freedoms that are guaranteed in our Constitution.

We trust that the Moral Charter that is being compiled will feature all these values, and provide an invaluable national ethical guide.

Colleagues, tomorrow is World AIDS Day. The whole world will rededicate itself to the fight against AIDS and to do more each year to make an impact against the syndrome. We will be doing the same at the national event in Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, while many activities are to take place in many other parts of the country, including this very conference.

There is a lot that the movement can contribute to the fight against AIDS, especially with regards to promoting a change in behaviour, which would greatly boost the campaign of reducing new infections.

Compatriots, I cannot conclude this address without referring to the need for the MRM to participate actively in the campaign of 16 days of Activism against the abuse of women and children.

The campaign fits in squarely with the objectives of the Movement. We are pleased at the high levels of interest in this campaign nationally, which indicates that the majority of our people are opposed to such criminal behaviour.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me emphasise that the MRM is a valuable nation building initiative.

The issues that the movement advocates affect all South Africans, regardless of political affiliation, gender, race, culture and other forms of differentiation. This is one national programme which brings us all together, to eradicate moral decay, and build an ethical society.

Let us build it, and make it a stronger advocacy movement which is more visible and more active in the lives of South Africans.

I wish the conference all the best. We look forward to your resolutions, which will definitely take the MRM on a new vigorous path, in pursuit of the goal of an ethical and caring society.

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
30 November 2004
Edited by: Shona Kohler
 
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