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A question of morality


Individuals who are waiting for a commission to say "tainted" or "untainted" don't have an ounce of morality

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I QUOTE from Nigel Rees’ handbook, A Word in Your Shell-Like (2006) in which he explains “curious and everyday phrases”.

He takes the concept “moral obligation”.

“Institutions are thrilled that they are allowed to invest in South Africa again. But they feel no moral obligation to do so.” – Financial Times (June 2, 1994).

If one unpacks that statement and the context of what morality means, we can clearly see the mare’s nest that followed the recent elections.

The extract followed the elections of 1994. In those elections, we voted as a nation united across race, creed, colour, status, gender and all the other false categories that advantaged some and demonised others.

Compared to the voter turn-out of the other day, the question looms large.

Are we a moral nation? Are we now going through a desperate fast-tracked, add-water-and-stir soul-search that hopes to get us back among the list of successful nations?

Or are we merely making joyful noises that includes throwing good money after bad, in a bid to fool the electorate that we’re being honest with a credible modicum of integrity?

Too many loose promises are being made to the demands that are themselves morally flawed. We cannot create jobs and housing out of thin air.

We cannot act on a daily basis based on revelations from commissions of inquiry that might reduce to window-dressing for more astute investors. We cannot promise free education and hostel accommodation just because we fear another uprising from the youth.

A nation that ignores its history is bound to repeat the mistakes of the past.

A nation that is profligate with its moral health, including faith-based commitment and a lack of mutual respect among citizens, is nothing less that the four blind men who were asked to identify an elephant based solely on tactile input. There will never be a completely satisfactory answer.

I push for an agenda of literacy. I am prepared to nourish reading for understanding as a self-contained skill that is not culture-bound. This forces me to write in this vein this week.

Look at the date of Rees’ extract. See how far we have fallen in terms of credibility. The bandwagon is full of speakers who quote the Zondo commission. That is not the law.

It’s an investigation, an exercise in exposing latent weaknesses. We’ve had 25 years of knowing that there was skulduggery afoot.

The Truth and Reconciliation exercise fell flat.

Zondo is headed in the same direction. The president must act to assuage the whole country, not a part fractured by factions.

Individuals who are waiting for a commission to say “tainted” or “untainted” don’t have an ounce of morality.

They already know whether they are guilty or not. Their moral fibre is being tested.