The Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA) is deeply troubled by the recent announcement by President Jacob Zuma of his decision to remove the former Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene.
South Africa is facing a turbulent economic climate, including perceptions of institutional corruption, the weakening of the fiscal discipline, and a recent credit rating downgrade. In the face of these challenges, the stability and good governance in the ministry of finance is essential to economic growth and job creation.
As Black professionals who are committed to good governance, economic transformation and the development of all our people we call on the president to:
“President Zuma’s decision is respected owing to his role and position in South African society. However, it is concerning that citizens and investors are left in the dark around the reasoning behind this critical change,” says ABASA President Gugu Sigasa. “This lack of transparency exacerbates already existing concerns about our economy. The immediate devaluation of the rand after the announcement is testament to this.
”The Association however wishes the incoming Minster of Finance Mr David van Rooyen, all the best with his responsibilities. ABASA is committed to helping South Africa effectively navigate its way around the current changes.
Gugu Sigasa, president of the Association of Black Accountants of SA
The ranks of local black chartered accountants (CAs) this month moved closer to exceeding the 10 000 mark for the first time as the results of the latest final chartered accountant exams were released.
The number of black chartered accountants increased by 615%, from 1 352 in January 2002 to 9 674 at the end of last month.
Over the 14-year period, the total number of local chartered accountants more than doubled, to nearly 40 000.
Karin Iten, an SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) project manager for marketing, said it was difficult to speculate about the reason for the growth in the number of local chartered accountants over the past 14 years.
“What is apparent is that there is still a critical shortage of skilled accountants at all levels across the economy.
“The latest Talent Shortage Survey for South Africa shows that accounting and finance staff are among the top 10 positions that employers in South Africa are having difficulty filling,” said Iten.
A total of 2 396 candidates who wrote the Saica assessment of professional competence passed – 1 286 of whom were black.
Of all the chartered accountants in the country, black accountants now make up nearly a quarter of the total, up from 6.8% in January 2002, which is the month from which Saica has kept an accurate breakdown of the racial composition of its membership.
The president of the Association of Black Accountants of SA (Abasa), Gugu Sigasa, said that over the past 10 years, there had been a significant growth in the profession and an improvement in the demographics of the members of the chartered accountancy profession.
“As recently as 2002, African and coloured members made up less than 2% of the total membership base of chartered accountants.
“The latest membership statistics indicate that the African and coloured candidates make up just 13% of the registered members [as recorded in February].
“It is therefore crucial that Abasa and the profession at large remain committed to efforts aimed at increasing the number of African and coloured candidates entering the profession,” said Sigasa.
The increase in the number of black accountants is partly due to the establishment of the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund and the Thuthuka Bursary Fund, which was set up in 2002. Thuthuka is a Zulu word that means “to develop”. The Thuthuka Bursary Fund is solely available to African and coloured students.
Iten said that, since 2002, the Thuthuka scheme had supported 3 000 students.
Of these students, Iten said, 251 had qualified as chartered accountants, 618 had entered the chartered accountancy training programme, more than 600 had completed a bachelor of commerce honours degree and 800 had obtained their bachelor of commerce degree.
Many of the remaining 731 students were still studying towards a bachelor of accounting degree, said Iten.
Since January 2002, the number of female accountants increased by 324%, from 3 254 to 13 783, while the number of male accountants rose by 57% over the same period, to 26 200.
The portion of female accountants has increased from 16.3% in January 2002 to 34.5% in February.
“Companies are recognising the fact that women, particularly black women, remain underrepresented in the profession.
“Yet this is slowly changing due to transformation projects such as Thuthuka, organisations such as the African Women Chartered Accountants’ forum, as well as the broad-based BEE code,” said Iten.
The number of accountants with disabilities has risen from 48 in December 2004, when Saica started tracking this aspect, to 158 in February.
Iten was unable to say how much had been spent on the Thuthuka programme since 2002.
The Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants in Southern Africa (Abasa) has, since 2005, had a strong working relationship with the University of Fort Hare. It prides itself in identifying and deploying its members to the university, and then following this up with support to the university, in an effort to attract and retain qualified staff from target groups in the quest for transformation.
Abasa had realised that true transformation of the accounting profession would only be achieved if all universities in the country — in particular those that carry the largest numbers of African learners and arebeing responsive to the social challenges by providing access — were fully capacitated to provide a conducive learning situation for students.
Abasa then focused its energy on the broader transformation of the accounting profession and realised that universities like Fort Hare, carrying many African students who seek the highest academic results and affording them opportunities usually denied them by the previously advantaged universities, had to be supported in their quest for fairness. With hindsight, Abasa is delighted with the stance it took and is happy that the department of labour and auditor general of South Africa also contributed substantial resources to make this dream a reality.
Abasa appreciates the university’s efforts and further commends the university on its stance to provide access to students with potential not fully displayed in their matric results due to the environmental challenges they have endured rather than any fault of their own.
Abasa would like to express its delight at the achievements of the University of Fort Hare. The university has achieved immensely in contributing to the political leadership of the African continent over the last 100 years. Fort Hare has produced world-renowned professionals in accounting, who continue to shine their light for the next generations.
We are proud of Abasa stalwarts such as Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, in whose honour the accounting department of Fort Hare was named, and we are equally proud that the department and its students has held that name in such high esteem through the results it produces. We extend our gratitude to Dr Sizwe Nxasana, who on several occasions has declared his appreciation of the role Fort Hare has played in his professional development. We look forward to many more such stories from the current crop pf students.
We are amazed and pleased with the results that Fort Hare continues to achieve with these students. In 2008, Fort Hare was the second- highest achiever in the Saica examinations — alongside the University of Cape Town — and was second only to the University of Pretoria. It was also among the top achievers for 2011 and now again in 2016. We welcome this development as the department’s maturity brings the accounting profession closer to the people. Well done, Fort Hare. We will always look up to you when we seek answers to the challenges that surround our country.