Government officials found guilty of corruption must be fired, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said on Thursday.
"We must root out corruption fearlessly. We must not look the other side when people are stealing public resources," he told a panel discussion, hosted by the Black Management Forum (BMF) in Johannesburg.
"We must fire them so that those resources can be used for what they are intended for."
Mashatile said corruption resulted in limited resources and inefficiencies in government.
"As a minister in government I can say upfront that we are not efficient."
An example of inefficiency was government's delay to approve environmental impact assessments (EIA) for companies that wanted to start projects in the country.
"We take too long to approve plans to give people permits to do business."
Mashatile urged the private sector to show confidence by investing in the South African economy.
"What leaders need to do between politicians and business is to show confidence in our own economy. If we don't invest in our own economy ourselves, the issue of attracting foreign direct investment from others will not succeed," he said.
For the economy to thrive, South Africa had to invest in skills development.
"Government must make sure that the public education is working... we should offer free education particularly to the poor communities."
Mashatile said land redistribution remained a challenge.
"Black people still do not enjoy ownership of land. It is a problem," he told the panel.
"We may not like the issue of expropriating without compensation, but expropriation is necessary to ensure that there is redistribution of land to redress the imbalances of the past."
The panel discussion was aimed in bringing government and business together to discuss how South Africa could do things differently to grow its economy and become the gateway to Africa.
The BMF called for penalties for companies that did not implement employment equity.
"[The] BMF believes that a penalty of ten per cent of turnover would force companies to take the law seriously," said Tembakazi Mnyaka, deputy president of the BMF.
She said the forum was disappointed by the slow pace of transformation, which was revealed in a recent employment equity report.
The report showed that blacks were still not dominating the senior management positions in companies in South Africa.
"The private sector can no longer hide behind any of its usual excuses of lack of skills because many of those that enjoy the highest mobility receive in-house training," said Mnyaka.