The shortage of Accounting professionals in South Africa – and, in particular, Black chartered accountants - is an issue of national concern.
In an effort to encourage aspiring chartered accountants, the College of Law and Management Studies spoke to Ms Amanda Zuma and Ms Xoliswa Hlongwane, two young CAs, who hold Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting degrees from UKZN, about how they have reached their elevated positions in the field.
Zuma (29), who is a senior manager at the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, said she progressed from a first year student who had to borrow registration fees to her current senior position within a relatively short period of time.
‘I registered for my first year with borrowed money. I told myself I would focus on my studies and that my results would speak for me. I only received financial assistance in my second year and I had to work even harder to make sure I did not lose that privilege. ‘What motivated me to stay focused was a hunger for success and that was what resonated with me more than the lack of money,’ said Zuma.
‘Getting this qualification was challenging and I needed a positive mind-set at all times. I still reflect on the days when I had to overcome challenges of the “big 4”, which is third year level. This was a challenge I met head on - an approach I use to life in general and to various situations that arise.
‘This resulted in me qualifying as a CA (SA) within the stipulated time preparing me for my postgraduate qualification as well Board exams, which I passed at the first attempt,’ she added.
That hunger for success has resulted in a career progression which has seen Zuma become responsible for developing future CAs.
Zuma says working at the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa has been the highlight of her career as a CA as it has offered her valuable insight into what the auditing of the country’s basic services means to the South African economy.
‘At the AG’s office we audit predetermined objectives where we focus on usefulness and reliability of the reported information, which is mostly in the public sector. Our trainees get that experience which sets them apart from a typical trainee accountant.
‘My role also entails getting involved in practical experience necessary for a trainee to become a qualified CA. I have also experienced meaningful transformation as our organisation strives to be a leader in transforming the profession through the support programmes offered through bursaries, scholarships and study support,’ said Zuma.
Thirty-one-year-old Hlongwane is ?Deputy Head: Internal Audit at eThekwini Municipality.
Hlongwane says her challenges do not differ much from those of the majority of students who depend on NSFAS for meals and books, etc.
‘I would go on for months with only 10 cents to my name, but lucky to have food in my cupboard.
‘I was also blessed with generous friends. I did not have all the books prescribed for the semester and would have to rely on the library copy which was shared by a lot of people. I also prayed that my great-grandmother would continue being able to sign my financial aid affidavit and she was!’
Her willingness to not give up also saw Hlongwane through the challenging journey of becoming a CA. In between feeling like quitting her articles, her passion for becoming a CA kept her hanging on.
‘What kept me going back to try again was the fact that I knew the reason I was failing my honours degree was not because I could not do it, but I was not focusing on my studies as I should have been due to work deliverables.
‘It is only after I completed Articles that I decided to give honours one more try. That was the year that I made it, and all it took was consistency and exam technique.
‘Being a CA has opened doors to my career. I now possess a powerful combination of skills, experience, determination, work ethic and my CA qualification,’ she said.
Her position as the Deputy Head of Internal Audit at eThekwini Municipality allows her to contribute to the improvement of the overall control environment within the Municipality and its municipal entities through the development and execution of a risk based internal audit plan, delivering on ad hoc requests, audit Committee reporting and staff development and training.
‘I am proud to live each working day supporting the Municipality to deliver on its mandate,’ she said.