"We are saying let us build morals that say if one day I do wrong, I will be the first one to say publicly, I erred, I'm sorry, and leave the position," he told the Moral Regeneration Movement in Boksburg on Sunday.
"Today [when] we are wrong we still continue in our position as if nothing has happened," Bapela said at the end of moral regeneration month.
He said the country needed leaders with sufficient morals to admit their wrongs and allow better qualified people to take their positions.
Teachers must lead by example
He also said teachers played a critical role in socialising pupils at schools and that they should lead by example.
"It is only if teachers are willing to be at school, in class, on time … that learners can also be at school, in class, on time respectful to teachers and learning."
Bapela said the Moral Regeneration Movement was a reminder to society that it took a village to raise a child.
The movement was established in April 2002 to help communities instil good morals and values. Its patron is Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Bapela said a moral society could be achieved if the people working in the government could stop corruption and nepotism.
He said the government's responsibility was not to interfere with people's personal and religious lives.
"It is the responsibility of our government to build a prosperous nation, free of its ugly apartheid past through eradication of poverty, inequality and unemployment," he said.
New path to unity
Also addressing the event, Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane said South Africa needed to define a new path towards unity.
She said the country was known as a rainbow nation, but now needed to have one colour. It also needed to define its own morals and values.
"We must say if you want to see that I am a South African, see me with this."
She urged the people not to give up on having a moral, value-centred society.
"You cannot give up for the future of this country, now that we are 19 years into democracy." – Sapa