Business & Economy

Tuesday, 13 August 2019 08:29

New SCOPA Chair says despite threats and intimidation South Africans must call out corruption

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August 2019 –  The Chairman of parliament’s key oversight committee has urged all South Africans to blow the whistle on corruption in all its forms.

Mkhuleko Hlengwa, who now heads the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), made the clarion call when he opened the 22nd   Annual Southern African Internal Audit Conference in Sandton this morning. The three-day event is hosted by the Institute of Internal Auditors SA (IIA SA), which represents over 8 000 members. 

Hlengwa told the 1 200-strong delegates, comprising of mainly internal auditors, how those within their ranks, politicians and even ordinary South Africans face death threats and intimidation when calling out corruption, corporate malfeasance and state capture. He said the tender system was “the greatest devil of them all”, adding that even SCOPA members were not immune to this level of bullying tactics when probing multi-million rand contracts

He said this is why all South Africans, and not only politicians, need to “find your voice and encourage whistle-blowing because we are only empowered by people such as yourselves”.

“Consequence management needs to take place … and we need to rewire the collective imaginations of our people in terms of handling public finances …  we need to stand on the side of that which is right.”

He said that, notwithstanding the threats to the lives of internal auditors and whistleblowers, there was a need to hold firm against corruption and state capture.  

“It cannot be business as usual. Internal auditors cannot merely do reports anymore and expect their principals to take action. You are the alpha and omega of good governance. People who are holding the center  in SA today … are the auditors. So, lead the way, and reclaim your space and do not wallow in silence.” 

He said the IIA SA conference was the most important event currently taking place in South Africa. “And so, I do not come here as a paragon of wisdom but as a participant to share a perspective of the problems we go through and of course share the good things as well.”

 He said: “As we rewire the discourse of financial management in this country, we must cultivate a culture of internal accountability and internal financial management to ensure we listen to internal auditors

“When we have our hearings with the various departments and entities, we begin to recognise that the issues that the Auditor-General has raised had already been raised by internal auditing throughout the year …  and I can stand here and say that auditors have been doing their work and that is something that South Africa should be proud of.” 

The theme for the conference, meanwhile, is Deconstruct Rewire Reconstruct.

IIA SA’ s Acting CEO, Charles Nel, reiterated that corruption is prevalent in corporate South Africa as well as government. “Sometimes I wonder are each of us, as internal auditors, 100% ethical?”

He said South Africa has “one of the greatest reporting statements in the world – the integrated report”. 

“It originated in South Africa but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As the public, we do not know what is going on beneath (the surface of) organisations. And, it often looks like non-executive directors also don’t have a full view of what is happening.” 

Nel said that in deconstructing, rewiring and reconstructing the country, internal auditors must ensure that the work they do positively and proactively impacts on all citizens while holding those in power to account through good governance and ethical behaviour.

He said the conference was a crucial tool in rebuilding society and that internal auditors “are at the epicentre of this vital project”. 

On Tuesday topics to be discussed will include lessons learned in the audit profession, emerging issues and best practices, data analytics, Blockchain, early indications of corruption and the impact of corruption.

Nel said: “Internal audit is not just about number crunching but enhancing the moral and ethical fibre of an organisation and to a greater degree society at large.” 

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About IIA SA

The Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa (IIA SA) is part of an international network representing the interests of Internal Auditors worldwide. As a part of this international network, the IIA SA upholds and supports the fundamental tenets of the profession - the Code of Ethics and the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. The IIA SA supports the profession by providing a wide range of services dedicated to the education and advancement of internal auditors and dynamically promoting and developing the profession in South Africa. The IIA SA’s objectives are to build the profession, its credibility and a thriving business environment in South Africa.

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