Mbeki: Crime a symptom of 'rapacious individualism'

The prevalence of corruption and other forms of crime in South Africa reflected a society that had embraced a culture of individualism, President Thabo Mbeki said on Wednesday.

Delivering the eighth annual Steve Biko memorial lecture at the University of Cape Town, Mbeki said social ills such as corruption represented society’s rejection of positive moral values.

“These negative social phenomena and others, which occasioned the call for moral regeneration, have suggested that our society has been captured by a rapacious individualism which is corroding our social cohesion, which is repudiating the value and practice of human solidarity and which totally rejects the fundamental precept of ubuntu.

“The question is therefore posed correctly -‒ ‘Is this the kind of society that Steve Biko visualised, that he fought and died for?’”

The lecture, which drew a full house that included students and businessmen, was also attended by former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano and former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings.

Mbeki said instead of mourning Biko’s death, people should celebrate his legacy.

“We have convened here not to mourn his death, but to celebrate his life, his thoughts and the earnest contribution he made to the liberation of our country and people.”

Mbeki dedicated a major part of his speech to slamming racism and architects of colonialism such as British colonial administrator Edward Long, diamond company De Beers founder and politician Cecil John Rhodes and former South African prime minister Jan Smuts. - Sapa


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