By Melody Chikono
THE Chartered Governance and Accountancy Institute (CGI Zimbabwe), which rebranded from Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe (Icsaz) this year celebrated its 50th anniversary during its annual conference in Victoria Falls last week. The Institute’s new president Taona Munzvandi (TM) shared the institute’s milestones with senior business reporter Melody Chikono (MC). Munzvandi said the Institute had taken up the challenge to fight corruption and crime through collaborations with public institutions. Below are the excerpts of the interview:
MC: Congratulations on your 50th anniversary. What can you say have been your major milestones as well as setbacks during this journey?
TM: We have achieved a lot, for example, we have signed a memorandum with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, where we are training police officers countrywide for a diploma in forensic accounting.
This month we have also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Deposit Protection Corporation. This is going to address issues of corporate governance, risk and compliance issues in the banking sector, so we have taken that responsibility in that sector. We have also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission ( Zacc) to capacitate them in terms of their responsibilities in fighting crime and corruption. We also have one with Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) and Great Zimbabwe University.
Last year we were admitted as a member of the International Federation of Accountancy, which blends very well in the sense that in February this year, the Cabinet approved our name change and object change. The object change that comes in is the accountancy auditing rights as well as tax consultancy.
The admission means we are internationally recognised so our members and our performance are an international benchmark in terms of best practices. Part of the challenges that we have been facing have to do with general economic issues, in particular, our membership, which is not gainfully employed, even if they were, they are unable to subscribe annually their membership fees, which is our major source for income.
More members have not been managing to meet that obligation and it is also a disadvantage to our members because if they fail to subscribe it means they are unable to participate in the institute’s activities, and, therefore , they tend to miss out in terms of the professions’ developments.
We also note that Covid-19 generally slowed down some projects that we would have wanted to establish but we soldiered on.
We have successfully managed to maintain our membership with other international professional bodies and even our local regulator, the PAAB. Affiliation in those organisations then gives us a cross pollination in terms of skills and experience that is taking place in the first world.
It enhances our members to build our skills and capacity in line with the current trends.
MC: What gaps existed in these institutions that prompted you to make the collaboration move?
TM: They are issues with good corporate governance practice, issues to do with accountability, responsibility by individuals and institutions so that the resources that are available are utilised where they are supposed to be reducing leakages. So these are the major themes we are trying to address. It also addresses issues of non-compliance and risks issues, so the necessary frameworks are being considered and implemented to reduce the level of risks and non-compliance.
This time around the issue on non-compliance is not just going to be a tick box but real issues on offer to avoid all these ill behaviours that are happening. You know what Zacc is doing in terms of making efforts to curb corruption.
All we are doing is to try and reduce the level of crime and corruption. It is either people do it willingly or they are unaware so this brings awareness at corporates, individual and national level.
MC: Issues of resource wastage have been a major aspect in both the private and public institutions, how do you intend to address that?
TM: Indeed, it is an issue of willingness. That is why we are inviting these public entities both public and private to collaborate with us in the fight against wastage of resources and better put them where they are productive. So it’s an issue of partnering and making the necessary collaborations.
MC: Discussions in the conference pointed to the fact that the application of accounting standards had an impact on investments. What is your comment on that?
TM: What has been happening is that the lack of regulation in applying and upholding those standards has been an issue and you find that the public sector has not been using the accrual account and cash accounting system. So enforcing the standards has been an issue but it’s now clear that everyone is now willing to apply the international standards.
MC: Have the challenges around regulation been rectified?
TM: It now has been rectified considering the improvements and the developments.They are now being enforced .It is now a requirement for public institutions to comply with international standards.
MC: Up to the half year, companies were still receiving adverse opinions from their auditors. What are the issues around that?
TM: At the moment it was not deliberate. It has to do with the currency where the issue is to do with looking at the parameters in terms of the Zimdollar against the US dollar, to say what is acceptable by the system. In that regard it created some gaps, which the accounting system could not consider appropriate, but there was nothing wrong with what the institutions were doing, for example saying US$1 was equivalent to ZW$1. But if you look at the international standards, there should be a variation and when you start to do these there is now you will start to get these adverse opinions.
MC: What then could have an impact on the ability to lure investors?
TM: It is very difficult to determine really because you try to say, if I can say US$1 is not a dollar but US$0,50 cents. It distorts the value of the business of the investments in that you ask yourself, am I reporting less or am I reporting more. So it affects the value of the investment.
MC: Going forward, what is your outlook at ICG Zimbabwe?
TM: I would say we are doing very well at the moment with the size of projects that we have. If you look at the proceedings of this conference, we are now being recognised as an important institution that will play a critical role in the governance and accounting institutes.
Now that we have a fully-fledged accounting portfolio in our object clause, which has now been approved, it then means our role in governance and accounting is going to carry the day in either the public or private sector.
At the same time, we really want to claim our share in the market and dominate the accounting, auditing, risk and compliance as well as tax and governance market. We have established training services in all these aspects. We have gone an extra mile with all these collaborations to support our primary objectives.