Public Protector Thuli Madonsela at the media briefing where she released her report on security upgrades at President Jacob Zumas private home in Nkandla. File picture: Matthews Baloyi

It is worrying that in the wake of the Nkandla report individuals with voices that carry ethical weight have chosen to remain mum, says Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya.

Pretoria - One of the most glaring omissions in the light of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead has been the silence of voices that carry ethical and moral weight.

Virtually every piece of commentary has come from either political parties, the media or professional punditry.

Very little has come from what may be broadly referred to as the ethical and moral sector, such as faith communities and men and women of redoubtable personal integrity and stature beyond reproach.

There was a time when South Africa had plenty of such people.

The likes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Dr Beyers Naude and Aggrey Klaaste were examples of individuals who did not need political office to say what was wrong in society and for their voices to carry weight.

The ANC itself was founded by men who were much more than political leaders in their communities.

These days such moral leadership is being entrusted to politicians.

It might be a throwback to the time when political leaders were understood to be men and women of integrity who carried themselves in accordance with that expectation.

It simply is not the case today.

In many instances, party politics have become dens of inequity where the extent of patronage is exchanged proportionally for the willingness to lie on behalf of the puppet master.

It is clear from this that those who seek to change society for the better might be making an egregious error in judgement if they assume political office is the best vehicle for pursuing a society with better morals.

One example after the other shows that politicians are straitjacketed by their sectarian interests.

Their comments on the moral and ethical failings of political leaders are always dismissed by their opponents as political point-scoring, rather than the desire to right wrongs.

It is not entirely the fault of politicians. They do what they naturally do. They became what they already are.

It is clear from this latest debacle that parliamentary politics have limitations.

It must now be clear that it is not necessary for all good patriots who have a vision of a different country to seek political office.

In many ways, party political office might hamstring those who want to speak truth to power.

The very person of President Jacob Zuma speaks to the folly of entrusting moral and ethical guidance to politicians.

How could we forget that it was the same Zuma who slept with the daughter of his friend – a young woman whom they both agreed during his rape trial shared the dynamic of a daughter to his father?

Civil society must not allow this moral crisis to continue.

There must surely be men and women in our communities whose stature is beyond reproach and who can be trusted to provide moral leadership.

I might not know who they are, but there must be a local equivalent of the international flavoured “Elders” created by Nelson Mandela.

The idea of the Elders was simple and universal enough.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel agreed that communities in various parts of the world looked up to elders for guidance, dispute resolution and moral leadership and thought why not have a global group of elders who did this for all countries.

They took their idea to Madiba and in 2007, the group was launched.

Admittedly, the Elders are mainly individuals who have at various points in their lives held political office, but the key ingredient in choosing them was their impeccable moral and ethical integrity, and a demonstrated activism for greater social good that transcends political ideologies.

South Africa needs such a group.

It needs men and women who can help divert our country from the moral dumpsite to which it is headed.

The often cited “good people” in the ANC able to steer the party that once upon a time occupied the moral high ground in our society have not materialised.

If they exist, their silence in the never-ending drama of shameless affairs by cadres of the party means they have chosen the ANC over their country.

Having dispensed with the moral compass in their own party, they cannot be trusted to be the rudder our society desperately needs.

We have enough analysts, columnists and other pundits.

Many of them are adept at describing the problem.

But through no fault of their own, do not have the gravitas to ensure their words count for something politicians feel the need to worry about.

However, there is value in analysis of society and punditry.

But we need words of vision and hope more.

Our degenerative state of affairs requires that this be as good a time as any to give way for the words of modern-day prophets who might just intervene where it really matters and where our politicians have failed us time after time.

* Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is executive editor of the Pretoria News

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