Original Research

Restoring the ethics of the common good in the South African pluralistic society

Motshine A. Sekhaulelo
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2484 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2484 | © 2022 Motshine A. Sekhaulelo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 February 2022 | Published: 02 September 2022

About the author(s)

Motshine A. Sekhaulelo, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The idea of the common good is missing in politics today. Fighting for political ideology and self-interest has replaced finding solutions to problems or practising the ethics of public interest. We urgently need to create a new social contract with proper implementation of the values set out in the national Constitution. This study was undertaken from a reformed ethical perspective, with special emphasis on the ethics of the common good. Methodologically, in researching this article, the author was guided by two related questions: how do ideas, beliefs and norms form? What happens in society to let these norms shape our actions? Conducting research guided by these questions has helped the author to understand that for many communities, stability is maintained by rules, norms, beliefs, convictions and worldview as located in tradition and culture. It is institutions such as those outlined here that still guide attitude and behaviour in the majority of cases. While being sensitive to these institutions and the role they play, through policy and legislation, under constitutional supremacy, the Constitution has become the primary guide and source for community stability.

Interdisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article brings the disciplines of theology, politics and governance together in defining the ethics of the common good in contemporary South African politics. It proposes that the moral prerequisite for solving the deepest problems our country now face is a commitment to the ethics of the common good. By definition, this will require the engagement and collaboration of all the ‘stakeholders’ – government, businesses, civil society groups, faith groups and especially young people.


common good; government; democracy; Constitution; values


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