President Jacob Zuma has wasted time and resources on keeping criminal charges against him at bay while the "majority of our people still languish in the vicious cycle of abject poverty", said Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership SA (BLSA) on Friday.
Mohale was speaking to HuffPost SA ahead of the Banking Association of SA's summit at the JSE on the role of the financial sector in achieving economic transformation.
Reflecting on the concession made by Zuma's legal counsel on Thursday that dropping charges against him in 2009 was irrational, Mohale said time, energy and effort had been wasted instead of "being obsessed with development".
Mohale said the outcome of court proceedings yesterday was "emblematic of the difficult position we find ourselves in because this president has always been obsessed from day one -- in Polokwane -- with keeping himself out of jail," he said.
The new leader of BLSA also said the annulment of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal's provincial elections has "taken us as a country backwards 20 years", which he said was "consistent with the current [national] administration's machinations".
'Transformation hampered by state capture'
Business and government need to demonstrate to South Africans by its actions that they were deeply committed to genuine transformation and against wasting or exploiting resources for personal gain, he said.
This includes walking the talk on transformation in the private sector, he added.
"Until and unless you look at the face of business and it is broadly reflective of our country's demographics then we are not winning," he said, emphasising the "spectacular failure" to invest especially in senior black executives in the country.
In the context of state capture and eroding levels of trust of citizens in government and business, however, entrenching a collective will to effect transformation was a huge challenge, he said.
"We appeal to business and all our social partners to demonstrate that business has transformed, and at the same time that we have combated and crushed state capture because that is what is willfully, deliberately, and purposefully plunging us into poverty".
President Jacob Zuma's administration over the last eight years, in this regard, had brought considerable decline, he said.
We have gone backwards in all measurable indices. We have left undone all those things we've ought to have done, and done the things we ought not to have done. We are miserable people and somebody ought to have mercy on us
'Cleaning up our own house'
Mohale said business must do "everything in its power to clean up [its] own house first and foremost".
"We as business mustn't put a foot wrong like acting anticompetitively, engaging in price-fixing or colluding," he said, stressing the importance of bringing the full might of the law on players who break the rules.
BLSA had also taken its 80 CEOs from the "prime real estate in Sandton" to Alexandra for the launch of its new strategy "so they can be among the poorest of the poor, who happen to be our own employees who we don't even understand what they have to go through to survive a night in an informal settlement".
He said despite "hitting a wobbly on the road", they believe the current crisis in South Africa will pass.
Eliminating state capture, nevertheless, remains a central priority along the way.
"They [looters] are not happy drinking from the tap, because it's too slow. They want to go to the firehose and drink from it... capturing National Treasury", which commands trillions of rands in public money, he said.