Morality the real issue

THE controversy over ministers' penchant for expensive luxury cars has refused to blow over. Like a dog with a bone Cosatu has steadfastly refused to let the issue die and instead insists on the cars being returned.

The response by the ministers has not improved the discourse. They continue to insist that they have broken no law.

We expected a better argument than that.

If it were all based on whether or not a law has been broken, there would not have been a need to fight against post-1948 racial segregation and its devastating consequences.

Like the ministers and their cars, those who evicted black people from lands they had occupied for generations and sent families scurrying off as nomads, acted within the strict constraints of the laws of the land.

Pulling down Sophiatown, jailing Nelson Mandela for life, prosecuting men and women because they fell in love with people of the "wrong" skin colour were all lawful acts.

The point is not to justify these draconian and barbaric measures. It is to remind us that sometimes what is law is not what is just or right.

In the case of cabinet ministers and their beloved cars what is clearly within the framework of the law is patently incongruent with the values expected from the nation's elected leaders.

We are all for the rule of law but it becomes meaningless if it is applied at the expense of what is right and moral.