GET SA BACK ON TRACK

Spear­head­ing re­search, stake­holder en­gage­ment and com­pli­ance with eth­i­cal stan­dards forms part of the ac­count­ing body’s con­tri­bu­tion

CityPress - - Business - JUSTIN BROWN justin.brown@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @JustinBrownSA

The SA In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants (Saica) is look­ing to help the coun­try emerge from its many and var­ied crises, which in­clude be­ing in a re­ces­sion, hav­ing been down­graded to sub-in­vest­ment sta­tus and fac­ing largescale cor­rup­tion and alarm­ing lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment, poverty and inequal­ity.

Saica CEO Ter­ence Nombe­mbe said this would be done through “coura­geous con­ver­sa­tions” in pub­lic and pri­vate, as well as through re­search con­ducted by Saica’s ex­perts.

The re­search, he said, would pro­duce well­con­sid­ered ideas.

He added that Saica aimed to mo­bilise its mem­bers – many of whom are CEOs, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cers and se­nior fi­nan­cial man­agers – to find so­lu­tions for the econ­omy and so­ci­ety.

On the is­sue of state cap­ture, Nombe­mbe said there was a need for the im­proved gov­er­nance of state-owned en­ti­ties.

Af­ter the Cabi­net reshuf­fle, which took place at the end of March, as well as the re­cent down­grad­ing of South Africa to “junk” sta­tus by rat­ings agen­cies S&P Global and Fitch, some of Saica’s mem­bers wanted to see “Saica take a stand and en­ter the pub­lic dis­course on propos­ing po­lit­i­cal change”, he said.

How­ever, in a note to Saica mem­bers in April, Nombe­mbe said: “As a di­verse-mem­ber or­gan­i­sa­tion, and in keeping with our con­sti­tu­tional ob­jec­tives, the last thing Saica should or will do is en­ter the pub­lic po­lit­i­cal de­bate.

“Saica has al­ready en­gaged, and will con­tinue to en­gage, with its stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment, to out­line and ad­dress the im­pact of the con­se­quences of re­cent events.

“We need to col­lec­tively lead in up­hold­ing eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples and in­tegrity among all the or­gan­i­sa­tions in which we serve, with par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on iden­ti­fy­ing and ex­pos­ing cor­rup­tion,” Nombe­mbe said.

“We will be hold­ing a series of panel dis­cus­sions with ex­perts and stake­hold­ers to con­tin­u­ously de­vise our ini­tia­tives to act on the sug­ges­tions re­ceived from mem­bers,” he added.

Re­fer­ring to his for­mer po­si­tion as Au­di­tor­Gen­eral, Nombe­mbe said when he moved to Saica, he left some un­fin­ished busi­ness, in­clud­ing how to make South Africa a bet­ter place.

Im­prov­ing the econ­omy and so­ci­ety re­mained one of his goals at Saica.

Saica rep­re­sents lo­cal ac­coun­tants and has more than 40 000 mem­bers.

Nombe­mbe said the triple threats of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equity needed to be re­solved, adding that bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion was an im­por­tant way to deal with these chal­lenges.

He said lo­cal ac­coun­tants were in­stru­men­tal in fight­ing fraud and cor­rup­tion in the coun­try. This in­cluded re­port­ing on ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties they found while work­ing.

Lawyers, to­gether with ac­coun­tants, were a “huge re­source” in fight­ing fraud and cor­rup­tion, he added.

Saica is on an ac­cel­er­ated drive to en­sure that its mem­bers fall in line with a new in­ter­na­tional ethics stan­dard called Non­com­pli­ance with Laws and Reg­u­la­tions, or Noclar.

This stan­dard sets out a frame­work to guide au­di­tors and ac­coun­tants on what ac­tion to take in the pub­lic in­ter­est when they be­come aware of a po­ten­tial il­le­gal act com­mit­ted by a client or em­ployer.

In ad­di­tion, Nombe­mbe said, Saica was work­ing hard to en­sure that more uni­ver­si­ties of­fered ac­cred­ited BCom de­grees which were recog­nised by Saica and which would of­fer grad­u­ates a less tor­tu­ous path to becoming Saica ac­coun­tants.

The uni­ver­si­ties of Lim­popo, West­ern Cape and Fort Hare in the East­ern Cape all have Saicaac­cred­ited com­merce de­grees.

Cur­rently, Zu­l­u­land Univer­sity in KwaZulu-Natal, Venda Univer­sity in Lim­popo and Wal­ter Sisulu Univer­sity in Mthatha in the East­ern Cape are in the process of gain­ing Saica ac­cred­i­ta­tion for their de­grees.

To sup­port the uni­ver­si­ties in nur­tur­ing stu­dents and at­tract­ing the right ac­count­ing aca­demics, Nombe­mbe said Saica had been pro­vid­ing them with three lev­els of fi­nan­cial sup­port: salary sub­si­dies for aca­demics; help with univer­sity in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion; and bur­sary fund­ing.

“Ac­com­mo­da­tion is a key fea­ture in help­ing stu­dents suc­ceed,” he said, adding that it was a way of en­sur­ing that stu­dents were prop­erly fed.

Nombe­mbe stressed the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing a pipe­line of ac­count­ing aca­demics to en­sure that suf­fi­cient qual­i­fied ac­coun­tants were nur­tured.

As part of Saica’s com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing the ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion, it runs the Thuthuka Bur­sary Fund. Set up in 2002, the fund spon­sors up to 300 African and coloured stu­dents study­ing BCom ac­count­ing at Saica-ac­cred­ited uni­ver­si­ties an­nu­ally.

For­mer FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nx­as­ana is chair­per­son of the Thuthuka bur­sary.

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