The MRM is primarily a movement and not an organization. It does not seek to replace or duplicate any of the existing initiatives and processes aimed at combating moral degeneration. Its mandate is to be a networking platform for all these various processes and initiatives. Therefore, structures are put in place to facilitate the work of MRM aim primarily at facilitating the envisaged networks and partnerships. They also seek to promote local action and commitment from within the various communities of the country at their various levels of existence and operation.
The origins of the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) date back to a meeting in June 1997 between then-President Nelson Mandela and key South African Faith Based Organisation leaders, the then Deputy Minister of Education Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa and the SABC, to discuss spiritual transformation. At that meeting, President Mandela spoke about the role of religion in nation-building and social transformation, and the need for religious institutions to work with the state to overcome the ‘spiritual malaise’ underpinning the crime problem.
“Our hopes and dreams, at times, seem to be overcome by cynicism, self-centredness and fear. This spiritual malaise sows itself as a lack of good spirit, as pessimism, or lack of hope and faith. And from it emerge the problems of greed and cruelty, of laziness and egotism, of personal and family failure. It both helps fuel the problems of crime and corruption and hinders our efforts to deal with them” President Mandela stated.
Mandela then called upon religious leaders to become actively involved in a campaign, which would subsequently become the moral regeneration initiative. At a moral summit in October 1998, he outlined some of the problems the moral regeneration campaign would have to tackle, as follows:
The Moral Regeneration Movement was launched on the 18 April 2002 at the Waterkloof Air Force Base. The launched was attended by leaders in civil society, government, political parties, religious, labour and delegates from all the nine provinces.