Bohang Mohale. Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The appointment of a new president for South Africa has given the business sector a second chance to help rebuild the country and keep it from becoming yet another failed state on the continent, the head of lobby group Business Leadership South Africa has said.

Bohang Mohale told 450 attendants at a conference on Tuesday that graft involving senior government officials and state company executives under former president Jacob Zuma -- or state capture -- had "hollowed out our institutions and replaced good cops with bad cops".

"Public administration is now worse than what was inherited 24 years ago," he said, referring to the advent of democracy in 1994 after the fall of apartheid rule which discriminated against non-whites.

With the appointment in February of Cyril Ramaphosa, a former businessman respected by investors, to replace Zuma, Mohale said South African business was "currently basking in the glory of positive sentiment".

"As business, we must join hands with other social partners to hold elected leaders accountable and insist on being involved in policy-making," he said.

"We need to do everything in our power not to become another failed African state. Investors want us to succeed – because they know we can realise the South Africa of Mandela’s dreams," he said, referring to the country's first democratically elected president, anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

Mohale said South Africa was good at developing plans, but lacked success in implementing and executing them, singling out its stalled land reform programme as an example.

“Transformation means together we are creating a future that has no resemblance to the past," he said. "Transformation is hard work, painful and emotive. We need to address issues such as poverty, economic equality and land, with seriousness.”

“We must, as business, be genuinely obsessed with the notion of state building," Mohale added.

- African News Agency