Corruption has become a big issue that has to be addressed by the whole nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
Ramaphosa told business leaders at a meeting in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, that a number of issues, especially corruption, were hampering economic development in the country.
He said the African National Congress (ANC)-led government spent the past few months dealing with those issues that "weakened" government institutions.
"We spent the past year repairing those things and rooting out elements that were leading us in the wrong direction in terms of corruption in our state-owned entities. Corruption has become a big issue that we have to address as a nation. It exists in both the public as well as the private sector. We were, as we all know, hit by the Steinhoff saga where billions and billions were lost," he said.
Ramaphosa also spoke about the corruption that led to the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank in Limpopo.
"Recently we had a bank which ordinary South Africans in Limpopo had not only invested their money in, but their hopes and their futures and that too just collapsed. All corrupt activities there were unveiled. Fortunately, the governing party in that part of the country decided to take action against people who were involved, which begins to show which way our country should go," he said.
'Act quickly and decisively'
He said "we must act quickly and decisively against people who have done wrong, so they move away and face the law in order to instil confidence in our institutions".
"This is important as we continue to strengthen our economy, rebuilding our institutions and making sure we are reshaping our country," Ramaphosa said.
Addressing challenges such as corruption needed to take place in both the government and in the private sector, he said.
Ramaphosa said the private sector also had a responsibility to root out wrongdoing in various institutions because in "government we are determined to do so".
"A new dawn has descended on our country, a dawn that says to us that we must renew ourselves. As for the ANC, we are renewing ourselves. We are improving ourselves in terms of how we work, in terms of the way we exercise and execute our responsibilities that we had been given by the people of our country in government," he said.
A new dawn
He added that through his "new dawn" many people in the country "were feeling that we now have a chance to make a departure from the past and move into the future".
He called on all South Africans to work with the government to develop the country, especially the business community.
"We want you to join us in growing the economy of our country."
Ramaphosa encouraged the private sector to create jobs to curb unemployment and poverty in the country.
"As business people, you must create jobs and our job is to create an environment which is conducive for you to run your businesses," he said.
Bongi Mshengu, from the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said they had been engaging with the Department of Economic Development in KZN in terms of the challenges they faced. These included crime and grime, he added.
Ramaphosa encouraged business leaders to be more "direct and more honest" when they wanted the government to address issues affecting businesses.
Earlier, during his meet and greet session, the president met the minority community from Manor Flats in the area.