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Launch of Moral Regeneration Month

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11 Jul 2009

Programme Director
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders and representatives of the House of Traditional Leaders
Premier of the Province of Limpopo
The MEC: Sports, Arts & Culture
All MECs present
The Mayor
The Provincial Leadership and Members of the Board of the Moral Regeneration Movement
Community Leaders and representatives of Religious bodies
Senior Officials
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am honoured and pleased to be among you today as we inaugurate this month, July 2009 as 'Moral Regeneration Month.' Today is a historic occasion in the continuing battle to place our country and nation on the correct moral course that paves the way for social cohesion and nation building.

We all know that we cannot sustain development in our communities if we cannot sustain our morals and values.

We cannot share bread or build roads together or construct houses if one among us is a thief or if one among us does not believe that we are heading in the same direction.

We cannot speak of living in peace and harmony if one among us beats up his wife and if others turn a blind eye to the situation.

We cannot tell the world that we are on the path to a greater humanity if some among us injure or bring harm to others because the other person is seen as coming from a different place or community or country.

We cannot say that we have fought for equality, non-racism and non-sexism if we do not practice gender equality and allow our girl children to be as educated as our boys and to share the same labour in the household.

We cannot say that we are a free people in a free country if we have to walk our neighbourhoods in fear of our lives and without a sense of security or comfort.

Yet the Freedom Charter that has been a guiding document for decades tells us that:
There shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!

So today we are here as people who care about our country. We are here because we care about our democracy. We are passionate about the way we live our lives and about the future for our children.

Today we are here because we share an understanding of the importance of values, because we believe in a common humanity and because we act for the greater good of all.

We are gathered here today under the theme of “Harnessing the Spirit of Ubuntu; through the Charter of Positive Values”.
As you may be aware, the Charter of Positive Values was adopted by a gathering of many stakeholders in July 2008.

This Charter is a clear framework indicating how we, as South Africans, are expected to relate to one another and to people from the rest of the world.
It is important that we highlight, whenever possible, the values that are contained in this Charter.

These values are:

Respect Human Dignity and Equality

Promote Responsible Freedom, the Rule of Law and Democracy

Improve Material Well-being and Econonomic Justice

Enhance Sound Family and Community Values

Uphold Honesty, Integrity and Loyalty

Ensure Harmony in Culture, Belief and Conscience

Show Respect and Concern for all People

Strive for Justice, Fairness and Peaceful Co-Existence

Protect the Environment.

It is clear that the foundation of all of these values is what we know as 'Ubuntu,' the universal Spirit of Togetherness, which informs us that we must extend, at all times, humanity towards and among one another.

I am informed that the basis for selecting July as Moral Regeneration Month is two-pronged. Firstly, it is based on the coincidence with the adoption of the Charter of Positive Values last July 2008.

Secondly, this month is selected in commemeration of the birth date of former state president, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. This is a very fitting acknowledgement of this great icon of our country, who himself is an outstanding living example and teacher of 'ubuntu.'

In line with today’s proceedings, I wish to inform this gathering that July 18 has been declared Nelson Mandela Day. On this day, each of us is called upon, in human solidarity with the rest of the world, to commit sixty seven (67) minutes of our time to community development work, as exemplified by Mr Mandela. I therefore urge this gathering to spread this message and to make the link with moral regeneration month as you do so.

The work of the Moral Regeneration Movement is very broad and its aim is to reach all South Africans. It is therefore important for us to highlight the key messages that we wish to be taken to heart by all those gathered here today and the communities in the rest of our country.

Critically, as informed by the Moral Regeneration Movement, we wish to support the emphasis on the following key messages:

South Africans inherently have high moral values and standards: As a people we have a deep and abiding belief in social justice and communality. We only have to look at our history, over the last three hundred years, to illustrate how these deeply held beliefs have led to our emancipation and the rebirth of this country as a constitutional democracy. A more recent example are the free and fair peaceful democratic elections held earlier this year which were conducted in a non-threatening atmosphere unimpaired by violence or fear. We must therefore do all in power to safeguard this inherent integrity and goodwill towards our fellow human beings.

Moral renewal is the responsibility of every South African: We have attained our hard-fought freedoms through taking individual and collective responsibility for our future. As such, we must also harness our individual and collective responsibilities to ensure that the moral rebirth of our country is realised. Even though our history has led to the damage of many positive values in our society, we are still morally conscious people and so we must do the work that needs to be done in order to reverse that tide of destruction. Each one of us must make the commitment to the moral rebirth of our nation, particularly in relation to changing the lives of young people, especially those who are at risk or who are in conflict with the law.

Moral communities are important to sustain and consolidate democracy, peace and prosperity in South Africa: Each of us is aware that the safety and integrity of our communities is our individual and communal responsibility. We therefore must ensure that initiatives that are undertaken to ensure that we retian our wellbeing have the desired results. We must continue to work together, as government and civil society to make sure that positive values are passed on from one generation to the next, from one individual to another and from one community to the next. In this way we shall build our nation collectively

Our inherent humanity and upholding of poistive values has implications for our communities, our country, our continent and the world as whole. Through the effort of each one of us we build a better life for all.

As you are all aware, we have just hosted a very successful Confederations Cup. I wish to congratulate all South Africans who were part of a peaceful and well-executed global event. This sets the stage for our participation inand hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, now less than a year away.

I encourage all present to help prepare communities to be excellent hosts to the international guests who will be here.

Our positive values as a nation must once again be in full evidence during the FIFA World Cup, just as they were during the Conferedartions Cup. We have demonstrated that we are capable of being the same outstanding nation that pulled through the challenging 1990s and became a beacon of democracy on the world stage.

The Role of Arts, Culture and Heritage in moral regeneration
One of our richest asssets is our cultural heritage. We have often reached deep into our heritage to find the necessary guidance and tools to do what is necessary for the development of our nation. It is therefore important to highlight that these positive values are also a reinforncement of our culture, wherein we already practice ubuntu in various ways.

The arts, culture and heritage sector must be encouraged to encourage cultural practitioners to impart positive values through the various arts, such as music and film and through song and dance. We believe that it is of particular importance to encourage our choirs in all our communities to help promote positive values. As people come together and sing together is sadness or in celebration, this offers us a way of entrenching communal values in our every day life.

This is particuarly important as many people, especially young people, are influenced by the messages that are conveyed, through one or more art forms, by a particulalr role model.

In partnership with other departments, the Department of Arts and Culture will continue to support initiatives which promote positive values. For example, we are collaborating with the Department of Correctional Services on the Arts Access Programme, which uses the arts to assist the rehabilitation of offenders. We are mindful of the role that government must continue to play in the support of the adoption, at a universal level, and by all segments of our population, of the positive values that are espoused in the Charter.

We are also determined that the arts should be for all and we are putting more resources into activities and programmes that will be held in community art centres.

The community library grant is also being used to build new community libraries in all reas, especially our rural areas.

We are also assisting community libraries in encouraging a culture of reading and writing through the establishment of book clubs.

I would like to bring my remarks to a close by reminding all gathered here today of the importance of the renewal of morality in our nation.

At the birth of the Moral Rgeneration Movement, in April 2002, the common understanding was that this would lead to :

Promoting positive values using the ‘Charter of Positive Values’

Disseminating and collating information and keeping audit of moral regeneration programmes

Activating the building of congruency between ethical values and behaviour

Being at the centre for collective activism on moral renewal issues

Championing dialogue that impact positively on our communities.

I wish therefore to encourage us all to remember these founding principles and continue to work towards achieving them. I wish also to acknowledge the tireless efforts of communities who have upheld these principles. This nation succeeds in its endeavours because of communities like this.

As we also look forward to Nelson Mandela Day to be held a week from now on the 18 July, let us also be encouraged by the words of then President Nelson Mandela who at his inauguration in 1994 said the following wise words:

“Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.
Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.
All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today.”

Today let these words inspire us to greater heights.

Through our daily deeds, let us show ourselves and the people of the world that we are a people who care and that we are a nation who have renewed our commitment to our values. Together we build a true People’s culture.

I thank you.