The origins of the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) date back to a meeting in June 1997 between then-President Nelson Mandela and key South African Faith Based Organisation leaders, the then Deputy Minister of Education Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa and the SABC, to discuss spiritual transformation. At that meeting, President Mandela spoke about the role of religion in nation-building and social transformation, and the need for religious institutions to work with the state to overcome the ‘spiritual malaise’ underpinning the crime problem.
“Our hopes and dreams, at times, seem to be overcome by cynicism, self-centredness and fear. This spiritual malaise sows itself as a lack of good spirit, as pessimism, or lack of hope and faith. And from it emerge the problems of greed and cruelty, of laziness and egotism, of personal and family failure. It both helps fuel the problems of crime and corruption and hinders our efforts to deal with them” President Mandela stated.
Mandela then called upon religious leaders to become actively involved in a campaign, which would subsequently become the moral regeneration initiative. At a moral summit in October 1998, he outlined some of the problems the moral regeneration campaign would have to tackle, as follows:
“The symptoms of our spiritual malaise are only too familiar. They include the extent of corruption both in the public and private sector, where office and positions of responsibility are treated as opportunities for self-enrichment; the corruption that occurs within our justice system; violence in interpersonal relations and families, in particular the shameful record of abuse of women and children; and the extent of tax evasion and refusal to pay for services used.”
The historic gathering to launch the national Moral Regeneration Movement at the Waterkloof Air Force Base on 18 April 2002 was the culmination of a process begun in 1998 when former President Nelson Mandela invited leaders of political parties and religious communities to a Moral Summit in Johannesburg to address the profound issue of moral renewal in South Africa.
Two workshops on Moral Regeneration under the leadership of Deputy President Jacob Zuma followed, which produced the booklet Freedom and Obligation, and a national Consultation in November 2001 proposed the establishment of the national Moral Regeneration Movement.
The purpose of the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) is “to facilitate, encourage and coordinate the programme of every society in working towards restoring the moral fibre of our nation”.
The MRM is a civil society driven movement which is not intended to be driven from the top. Its purpose is to coordinate the many concerns that already exist among our people. High moral values are revealed in all our cultures and the people wish to transform the anti-social acts which threaten our country.
The MRM will address “the issue of the responsibility that each and all of us should take our lives, moving from the understanding that, as we were our own liberators in resistance against apartheid so too should we today act as our own liberators in dealing with its legacy”-President Thabo Mbeki.
The MRM is a framework to encourage, facilitate, sensitize and network the response in every sector of our society. It envisages a confident community with a strong moral fibre. Its mission is to revive the spirit of Ubuntu/Botho, using all the resources available in government and civil society. The MRM is committed to establish the values we uphold and with which we want all nations in the world to identify us.
- Rational for MRM Month
MRM Month is a month where the Moral Regeneration Movement calls on the Nation – all South Africans and all those who live within our borders - to take stock of our lives to celebrate the good, acknowledge the hard work that is done by men and women moral regeneration practitioners as well as all those who have dedicated their lives to doing good; individuals, organisations or institutions, who promote positive values and work towards strengthening and enhancing the building of a moral, just and humane society.
July was chosen as MRM Month for the following reasons:
- It is the month in which the Charter of Positive Values was formerly adopted at a ceremony held at the Waterkloof Air Force Base endorsed by the then Deputy President of South Africa, the Hon Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as Patron of the Moral Regeneration Movement. The event was attended by about 3000 South Africans from all walks of life, especially those that had been part of the consultations of the formulations of the Charter: civil society, academia, business, labour, political parties, Faith Based Organisations, Women, Youth formations and other stakeholders.
- It is the birth month of Former President Nelson Mandela who convened the first Moral Summit to discuss the spiralling moral decay that was becoming pervasive in our country.
- It is also to give time and space for all South Africans to reflect on the state of the nation regarding our moral and ethical behaviour and to encourage one another to aim to improve for the sake of attaining a sustainable moral, just, humane, stable and prosperous nation.