Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Wednesday, 27 September 2006 10:07 UK

S Africa is losing its way - Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking to the BBC in 2004
Tutu has long spoken out against injustices in South Africa

Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu has warned that South Africa is in danger of losing its moral direction.

He said it had failed to sustain the idealism that ended apartheid and warned of growing ethnic divisions.

Referring to South Africa's high murder rate and the rape of children as young as nine months, he said the African reverence for life had been lost.

The retired Anglican archbishop opposes ex-Vice President Jacob Zuma becoming president due to his "moral failings".

Mr Zuma's presidential aspirations received a major boost earlier this month after corruption charges were dropped against him. He was acquitted earlier this year on a rape charge.


Archbishop Tutu said the country had achieved a remarkable degree of stability in 12 years of democracy despite problems poverty, Aids, corruption and crime.

There is a very low sense of moral self esteem in South Africa today. It is really shameful
David Amana, Cape Town

But delivering the Steve Biko memorial lecture at University of Cape Town, he questioned why a respect for the law, environment and even life, were missing in South Africa.

"What has happened to us? It seems as if we have perverted our freedom, our rights into licence, into being irresponsible. Rights go hand in hand with responsibility, with dignity, with respect for oneself and for the other.

"The fact of the matter is we still depressingly do not respect one another. I have often said black consciousness did not finish the work it set out to do," he said.

Jacob Zuma (Pic; Jonathan Biles)
Zuma's comments on HIV during his rape trial shocked Aids activists

He said government officials often acted like former officials during the apartheid era - treating people rudely.

He said South Africa should oppose xenophobia and act sensitively when place names were being changed rather than appearing to gloat and ride roughshod over the feelings of others.

He also made a plea for people to pick up litter, to care for their own environments and for their fellow citizens.

"Perhaps we did not realise just how apartheid has damaged us so that we seem to have lost our sense of right and wrong, so that when we go on strike as is our right to do, we are not appalled that some of us can chuck people out of moving trains because they did not join the strike, or why is it common practice now to trash, to go on the rampage?

He said that South Africa remained a wonderful country that had produced outstanding people - such as Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid leader who died in police custody in 1977.

"The best memorial to Steve Biko would be a South Africa where everyone respects themselves, has a positive self image filled with a proper self esteem and holds others in high regard."

Is S Africa losing its morals?
27 Sep 06 |  Have Your Say
Writing to Tutu
12 Sep 06 |  Magazine

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