Restoring credence to the CA (SA) designation
STATEMENT by The African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) Forum- 14 December 2017
The past week has seen the accounting profession brought yet again into question. The dark cloud that covers Steinhoff has led to a significant erosion of wealth, having lost R282bn in market value in a week. This is one of the most catastrophic losses on a single stock on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and goes beyond the erosion of shareholders’ wealth. The implications of this enormous loss affect the most vulnerable members of society as pensions are at stake and, more devastating in a country with an already high unemployment rate, the potential of job losses. This could also bring into question the credibility of the South African financial market leading to a decline in foreign investment on the JSE. This recent incident, along with other corporate scandals over the last year has once again shone the spotlight on incidents of corruption, collusion and lack of corporate governance displayed by some members of the Chartered Accountancy profession. As an organization that has the building of formidable ethical leaders as part of its mission, the AWCA is gravely concerned by the persistent trend of corporate governance failures and unethical leadership. We condemn the actions of those implicated and found guilty of wrongdoing. We wish to highlight that the actions of a few individuals are not a reflection of the entire CA (SA) population and should therefore not be blankly projected upon all CA (SA) professionals. The AWCA holds the view that the resignation of implicated individuals is not sufficient corrective action. We support the investigations that have been initiated and to this end, our view is that punitive action should be taken against those found guilty. The economic wellbeing of this country is dependent on both the private and public sector, and the AWCA encourages collaborative efforts by all stakeholders across the spectrum to combat this negative trend. The accounting profession is the backbone upon which reliable financial information rests and consequently deserves collective effort by all stakeholders to ensure that its reputation and public trust in it is restored.