"Ethics is a make-or-break factor for the dream of a rainbow nation," observed Professor Deon Rossouw, CEO of the Ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA). Speaking at the Second Annual Ethics Conference in Sandton on Friday, Prof Rossouw further said: "We have to look at where we have made progress, where we are failing and where we need to put more focus in order to build a more ethical, and thus ultimately more just, society. Both individuals and organisations have to take responsibility for their impact on society."
Speaking on the state of ethics in South Africa, Eusebius McKaiser, a political and social analyst at the Wits Centre for Ethics, argued that South Africa had to close the gap between the vision we adopted in 1994 and enshrined in our Constitution, and the reality of what is happening on the ground. McKaiser said that South Africans tended to confuse ethical with legal behaviour.
Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, chancellor of the University of Pretoria and chairman of Rothschild South Africa, agreed that the problem of ethics lies not in ideological beliefs but in people's everyday conduct. "Those who lead must be the champions of good ethical conduct. The implementation of ethics in an organisation should not be left to ethics officers and auditors," Professor Nkuhlu said. "We need to develop a common understanding of what serving the public interest means."
At the same time, he added, it was the actions of ordinary South Africans that will ultimately make the biggest difference. Both corporate and private citizens must insist that the national conversation be about the values that underpin policies and economic objectives, and should participate in this conversation more actively.
Sipho Pityana, chairperson of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, argued that an active citizenry could reclaim power from political parties and, in fact, increase the capacity of the state, provided the state recognised citizens as partners and not as enemies or opponents.
We can all be agents of change...
We need to develop our character
Develop families, businesses and communities of character
To find out more visit WWW.CHARACTERMAKESTHEDIFFERENCE.COM
View video about character by Dr Mario Denton
Special recognition to SA Goodnews