Zama Khanyile CA(SA)
Historically, transformation of the Accounting profession has been rather slow. The first female Chartered Accountant (CA) qualified in 1917 and it took another 70 years for the profession to have its first black female CA, Ms Nonkululeko Gobodo, in 1987. When the AWCA was launched, 17 years ago, African, Indian and Coloured (AIC) female CA’s were 407 out of a total CA population of 20 903 (2%). With concerted efforts from various stakeholders, transformation has gained momentum and AIC female numbers have increased to 6625 out of a population of 45 428 in June 2019 (15%).
The profession remains on a journey of rebuilding, notwithstanding some negative news reports that continue to taint its good name. We all have our work cut out for us in ensuring that we reset and adopt the fundamental principles that will ensure that we Build To Last. SAICA is seen as the bastion that ought to restore the profession to its former glory. The AWCA is confident of Mr Freeman Nomvalo’s ability to lead SAICA and the profession through the current environment. His article titled, ‘We Can All Lead Change’ (on page 73) is an aptly crafted opinion piece that highlights how each of us can take leadership and own our part in bringing about the change we want to see in the profession and in the country. One such area is supporting aspiring CA candidates.
The results of the 2018 APC (page 30) and 2019 ITC exam have propelled caused us to unpack and take stock of the bouquet of issues that are causing the pass rate of Black candidates to slide backwards, threatening the strides made in growing the Black female representation in the CA statistics. This trend cannot be allowed to continue and it is upon all of us to ensure that we raise our hands in support of the next generation of leaders.
The AWCA was encouraged when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a cabinet with 50% of the ministers being women, and further announced that all provinces led by male premiers should comprise of at least 60% female provincial executives. This was a very bold and admirable move from the President, which we believe sets an appropriate tone that should be replicated in C-suite appointments in both the public and private sectors. These entities and companies should identify a leadership pipeline and provide growth opportunities to it through intentional sponsorship and transformative succession planning.
Much has been said about the tough economic climate faced by the country which has been marked by a 3.2% decline in GDP in the first quarter, and an increase in unemployment levels to 27.6% in the same period. At times like these, corporates are often triggered to find innovative ways to grow revenue which is usually coupled with budget cuts and the implementation of austerity measures. However, now is in fact the time to invest in education and skills development in order to reap the long-term benefits of an increase in the scarce skills because the beneficiaries of this investment will ultimately contribute to increased productivity either as employees or business owners.
On a lighter note, the AWCA community has once again assisted in identifying phenomenal women and acknowledging them through the Woman of Substance™ (WoS) and AWCA Recognition Awards. Our previous WoS and Recognition Award recipients continue to be recognised for their extraordinary leadership and contribution to society. Our 2018 WoS award winner, Dr Judy Dlamini was conferred an honorary doctorate by the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (Westville) for her economic activism. While Ms Nonkululeko Dlamini, winner of the 2017 Public Sector CFO of the year award, was recognised as an outstanding Public Sector CFO by the CFO Magazine in May 2019. Our 2016 Audit Partner of Year winner, Ms Shirley Machaba, has recently been appointment as the first black female CA to be the CEO of one of the Big 4 audit firms. Her appointment as CEO is a true testament to how internally-nurtured talent can rise through the ranks to take the ultimate leadership position.
Furthermore, the 2014 WoS winner, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, was recently awarded the Cannes LionHeart Award in recognition of the extensive work she does in championing women’s rights across the world.
There have been a few developments in the past year that we are proud to highlight:
Through the financial support provided by our stakeholders and partners, the 2019 Bursary Fund has been able to support a record high of 17 deserving women who are academically strong but lack the financial resources to afford tuition fees, student accommodation, textbooks and a living allowance. The inaugural Mahube Entrepreneurs’ Summit took place on the 14th of March. The Summit was attended by over 150 current and aspirant entrepreneurs.
We held the second instalment of the annual AWCA Fundraising Golf Day where four-balls were taken up by 23 companies. We added University of Johannesburg to our stable of Student Chapters, which increases the AWCA student chapter footprint to 11 universities across the South African landscape.
We launched our social media campaign called ‘Flourish Friday’, that aims to celebrate the advances made by women. We launched our website which features a fresh new look, easy navigation and a streamlined process for membership sign-up.
All these achievements are realised through the time, passion and dedication poured in by the AWCA board and vibrant sub-committee structures through which dedicated women tirelessly give their time and receive no remuneration. As the spirit of Thuma Mina continues to sweep across the nation, we have seen an upsurge in the number of volunteers who have signed-up and have become active subcommittee members.
Sadly, we bid farewell to Ms Londeka Shezi, our 2019 recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year award and an active subcommittee member. May her soul rest in peace, and may her story inspire others to pursue their passions, break boundaries and remember to give back.
Congratulations to Dr Vuyokazi Mahlati! You really are a Woman of Substance™. You wear many hats as a driver of women empowerment, a social entrepreneur, Chairperson of the Land Reform Panel amongst your many other roles. Your ability to wear these hats with authority and competence is admirable. To the extraordinary women who have been named the AWCA Recognition Award winners for 2019, may you continue to leave an indelible mark in your business and social networks.
Lastly, I extend a big ‘Thank You’ to the growing base of AWCA stakeholders and partners, the AWCA board, the subcommittee members, our membership base, and our office staff Ms Gugu Mthonti, Ms Sibongile Setshogo and Ms Zea Zama.