Start main page content

Justice Dikgang Moseneke receives honorary doctorate from Wits University

- Wits University

Moseneke appeals to businesses and professionals to adhere to ethical codes in society.

The University of the Witwatersrand today bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Laws on the outgoing Chancellor of the University, Justice Dikgang Moseneke in recognition of his significant political, social and economic contribution to South Africa and its people.

Moseneke, who has served as Chancellor for the University for the past 12 years, has called on all sectors of society, but particularly the corporate sector and professionals to adhere to professional and societal codes of ethics.

“There is an intersection between business transacting and ethics … and increasingly ethics is being thrown into the gutter. All societies build an architecture on the way that we relate to each other, and we set up ethical codes that are well-known, but as a country we are eating at this and destroying the ethical core of society,” said Moseneke.

“Ethical codes teach us how to relate to one another, how to acquire knowledge, how to be good human beings and how to transact in society. Whilst the low-lying fruit would be to talk about politicians, current business practices are riddled with uncompetitive behaviour, collusion, price-fixing, the escaping of tax liabilities and inflated pricing. One of the most irritating class actions that I have seen in my time relates to the price fixing in relation to bread, which is a staple food of so many needy people in South Africa.”

He expressed his disappointment with some professions and professionals, citing the Life Esidimeni case as one example. “Look at the professionals in the healthcare sector – they take the Hippocratic Oath to serve humanity, but they go out and just do as they wish, and forget about ethical conduct.”

Moseneke also took a swipe at the accountancy and auditing professions. “Have our accountants and auditors done us proud? Many of you would think that ethical norms are rendered useless as our accounting guardians are pliable – they are a threat to society much bigger than we understand. Many of our professional accounting guardians went to sleep and actively participated in collusion, take the VBS case for example.”

On violence in South Africa Moseneke said: “Ethics also speaks to the way in which we relate to one another – think about the violence in our country, think about the crime and toxic masculinity and the horror that women have to go through in their relationships with men – every day we see the ethical paucity that sets in to eat away at society”.

He called on society to guard Wits University and the institutions that guard society and humanity.  “The importance of institutions such as Wits is a vital part of our quest for a just society. It is a vital part of reforming society and of transforming an otherwise uneven and unequal society.”

Moseneke concluded by calling on all people and social actors to “seek personal agency, to strive for public agency and to continue to do as much as we can for Africa and society”.