Original Research

Politics without morality and accountability: The Nkandla case from a deontological perspective

Mojalefa L.J. Koenane
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 13, No 1 | a383 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v13i1.383 | © 2017 Mojalefa L.J. Koenane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 September 2016 | Published: 28 February 2017

About the author(s)

Mojalefa L.J. Koenane, Discipline of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


The Nkandla controversy has long dominated South African politics and has seemingly been endless. This article revisits the Nkandla issue from the perspective that it fails the Kantian categorical imperative (i.e. CI) and attempts to explain the problem of individual as well as organisational or structural corruption, in which the author contends the Nkandla controversy to be grounded. This article opens a discussion on the relevance of Kantian theory in confronting the matter of Nkandla. The author argues that Kant’s moral theory should not be viewed simplistically but from a rational position of internalised moral maxims or precepts. The Nkandla project is interrogated in relation to the former Public Protector’s and Minister of Police’s reports on the Nkandla ‘security upgrades’. It is the author’s view that South Africans are demanding accountability insofar as the Nkandla project is concerned, since moral attitudes are an integral and necessary part of our everyday lives. It is the author’s contention that the President and the executive have no desire to be accountable and transparent in the Nkandla matter. The aftermath of Nkandla controversy has changed the face of South Africa’s political environment completely. The author further argues that holding political elites accountable should not be regarded as hostility towards those held responsible and the African National Congress as political organisation. The author also looks at the Constitutional Court ruling on this matter.


Nkandla; accountability; corruption; deontology; maxim; morality


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