GANDA’S TIPS FOR A CLEAN AUDIT:
Ramasela Ganda passed up the opportunity to be the chief financial officer for JSE-listed company Tongaat Hulett and chose the civil service instead, a move that has led to Ekurhuleni Metropolitan’s first clean audit.
Ganda (40) credits her management team at Ekurhuleni for the council’s first clean bill of financial health in 14 years. But Ganda is being humble.
The soft-spoken mother of four said the past eight years in government have been the toughest of her life. She attributes her success to the financial management mentoring she received while working for Deloitte and Anglo American.
Born in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, Ganda matriculated from Reitumetse High School. She always wanted to become a police officer, but took the advice of a teacher who instead suggested she register for chartered accounting at the University of Pretoria.
After doing her articles at Deloitte and spending a few years in the private sector, the daughter of a home affairs official worked at the National Energy Regulator of SA.
“Government is really a tough place. But I chose government and I knew very well the challenges from a career point of view. I knew how easily one’s career could be destroyed and that things that have nothing to do with you can destroy your career,” she said, adding that many of her friends had questioned her decision to join the civil service. The past 18 months have not been easy. “Local government has it worse because we’re the entry point. For people to start talking about the national
1. Deal with what the Auditor-General has raised as shortcomings, and look at the root cause and not the symptoms. 2. Whatever you do, treat state money with
respect and as if it was yours. 3. Have the highest respect for the
law in everything you do. 4. Hire and surround yourself with competent people.
5. Be a team player. 6. Behave like a resident by
holding regular meetings, and do walk-abouts to find out what the issues are for your residents and stakeholders. 7. Every decision counts and there is nothing too small or too big for a local
government official. 8. Respond to all queries. 9. Check the entire value chain of each decision. Account for everything and ensure all controls are in place,
from document management to audit action plans.
10. government, it is because we have messed up big time somewhere,” she said.
For her to make the financial changes she wanted at Ekurhuleni happen, Ganda said she “toughened up” and ensured that the buck stopped with her. “One thing that gives you comfort is when you enter the public service on your own merit because you’re able to tell anybody what to do and what not to do, and you’re able to stand your ground,” she said.
Ganda said she wouldn’t change her experience at Ekurhuleni, or her team, for anything.
Attending community gatherings, and responding to late-night complaints about broken street lights and long grass has taught her to appreciate how her decisions affect service delivery.
She has told municipal officials to get out of their offices and get to know the people and their issues.
Ganda, who plans to write a handbook for chief financial officers, is clear that the politicians provide the policies, and from there it’s “hands off” as she implements them.
“If you look at how many times officials take the fall for politicians, it’s a lot. You have to ask yourself, do I want to be a sacrificial lamb? I don’t think anybody wants that,” she said.
“There are threats and all kinds of things that come with this job. If you don’t grant somebody a tender, you’re a target. If you check if something is illegal, you’re a target. We need, as administrators, to rise up for what we believe is right and not to succumb to unnecessary pressures.”