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Saica CEO Freeman Nomvalo says the body is now ready to act against former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. Picture: ALON SKUY
Saica CEO Freeman Nomvalo says the body is now ready to act against former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. Picture: ALON SKUY

I am surprised at the silence of the accounting profession and of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, and of professional firms and corporations that employ accountants accredited by the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), on the December 1 Assessment of Professional Competence examination fiasco caused by indifference or inability.

Surely the failure to administer an exam severely compromises the content of the exam and its outcome?

The reaction of CEO Freeman Nomvalo, blaming poor decisions at some unidentified “low level” and the absence of procedures to escalate problems make the embarrassment scandalous: surely professionals are distinguished by an ability and preparedness to accept that the buck stops at the very top? Surely this should be evident in the behaviour of the CEO of an institution charged with accrediting professionals?

Nomvalo’s apology, however welcome, confirms fatal management flaws at Saica. The most critical weakness appears to be the puzzling chasm between a fragile executive and feckless staff.

BusinessLIVE reported a year ago, on December 15 2020: “It was not long ago that SA’s auditing standards were regarded as the world’s best. As recently as 2016 the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness report ranked SA auditing standards No 1 worldwide, a position held for seven consecutive years … Fast forward to the latest WEF report, for 2019, and SA’s auditing standards now rank 49 out of 141 countries.”

One should hardly wonder at Steinhoff, Tongaat Hulett, EOH, Delta Property Fund and (old) African Bank when the very accrediting body of professionals possessed with audit responsibility has all but eviscerated a once proud institute.

Johnnie Westraadt

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