Pretoria - South Africans have a collective responsibility to ensure that all forms of social ills are eradicated from our society, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Friday.
"We take this opportunity to reiterate our indivisible humanity and call upon all our people at once to respect and defend human rights as enshrined in our constitution," Motlanthe said.
He was speaking at an annual conference of the National Regeneration Movement (NRM), underway in Boksburg.
Motlanthe said the conference took place at a time when the country was faced with several challenges associated with moral collapse, including the recent attack on foreign nationals at De Doorns in the Western Cape.
"Just as the 2008 attacks on foreign nationals were acts of immorality and criminality, so were these latest acts by some members of our communities," Motlanthe said.
Thousands of Zimbabweans were forced to flee their homes in the farming area of De Doorns last week when locals went on a rampage accusing them of stealing their jobs. Government has condemned the action which also saw Labour Minister Membathisi Mdlalana intervening in the matter.
Motlanthe told the more than 100 delegates gathered at the conference that morality began with respect for all humanity, regardless of place of origin, race class or religion.
"In the African context, one of the highest tests of morality is how we treat strangers in our homes and in our communities," he said. He called for a society that strives to build a nation where crime and corruption, theft and graft, child abuse, violence against women and children and other social pathologies are viewed with indignation and treated with disgust they rightly deserve.
Also speaking at event was MRM Chairperson and former Mayor of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa who called on delegates at the conference to be the troops and foot soldiers of moral renewal in the country.
Mkhatshwa described moral decay as one of the biggest threats to South Africa's hard-earned freedom and democracy. "The kind of thing people are doing today are so horrific and if not watched they may pose a threat to our democracy," he said.
He acknowledged that the National Regeneration Movement was probably not as vocal and visible as it should and urged stakeholders, including government and civil organizations, to come up with ways to address the challenge.
The movement is a state-driven body formed in 2002 to address issues of moral decay in society.
As from this year, government has declared July as Moral Regeneration Movement Month.
The theme for the conference is: "The Charter of Positive Values: The Hope for South African Morality."
Among the issues to be tacked by the delegates at the conference include the fight against xenophobia, human trafficking and the debate surrounding same sex marriages.