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Sprucing up the public sector

By Owen Mavengere

THE Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (Icaz) holds an annual Public Sector Convention, which seeks to bring together public sector professionals and Icaz members based locally and abroad, to share experiences as well as get updates on issues related to the public sector and their professional and business growth.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, and the large numbers expected, this year’s convention will be held virtually on October 21 and 22.

The Zimbabwe Independent is the official media partner.

The theme of the convention

Continuing from why the event has been forced to be virtual, the theme for the convention this year is “Enhancing Public Sector Sustainability in the Covid-19 era and beyond”.

The theme also focusses on life beyond Covid-19.

Hopefully, my optimism is not misplaced but with vaccines and other interventions, I chose to be positive. This part of life beyond Covid-19 is a key area, which saw Icaz inviting the President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), Alan Johnson, who graciously accepted. He will be speaking on building back better from the pandemic.

The first part of the theme talks about sustainability, which was conceived with environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects in mind.

The speaker, Rodney Ndamba, will build on earlier events, in particular, one wherein Sections 315 to 321 of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act (Chapter 10:31) where highlighted by the Auditor General, Mildred Chiri, as she mentioned that it is mandatory for the public sector to adopt Integrated sustainability reporting.

Why a convention?

My view is that the public sector is at the base of all economic activities and is as important, if not more so, than the private sector.

One thinks of:- electricity (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, Zesa),  water (Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Zinwa) and local authorities), fuel (Petrotrade and National Oil Infrastructure Company, Noic) and health of the work force and the public (Parirenyatwa, Mpilo hospitals etc.).

These goods and services I have highlighted as examples are inputs into virtually all economic activities and whenever the public sector coughs the entire economy will catch a cold.

Prior to the pandemic I used to say that, no one provides a more critical good or service than Zesa and Zinwa.

Covid-19 taught me that there is also oxygen right at the top of the list of critical goods and services, which apparently is not cheap, except at government hospitals, which are under the umbrella of the public sector.

The local and world economies are undergoing various disruptions arising from rapid changes, the public sector should seek to adapt and be able to deliver on its mandate efficiently and effectively.

This can only be achieved by having, within the public sector environment, “difference makers” who foster transformation and seize opportunities for recovery and growth.

This convention will reflect on the transformations required and the prospects available for delegates to become difference makers.

The speakers and objectives

The objective being to foster transformation, the convention has five main sessions and a sixth special session.

Session 1 — Sustainability in the Public Sector. This is part of the theme and will also include TelOne’s FD Bernard Makanza. This is key, as failure by the public sector to focus on these aspects, in particular the environment, might even threaten exports as some markets will deny Zimbabwean products if they are manufactured using the goods and services from the non-compliant suppliers e.g. energy, water etc.

Session 2 — Ethics. The Secretary of the Public Accountants and Auditors Board will be speaking together with Alison Ring, the Director Public Sector at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, as well as Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission’s Commissioner Thandiwe Mlobane and Law Society of Zimbabwe president Wellington Magaya. Ethics are always topical and it is expected that safeguards in place, and how to handle unlawful instructions will be looked at.

Session 3 — Building Back Better Beyond Covid 19. This session will touch on how Covid-19 impacted us all and how to recover. The President of International Federation of Accountants will touch on this session and it is expected that afterwards the public sector officials will be in a better position to move forward and we can restore the public sector and ultimately the whole economy to the pre-pandemic days.

Session 4 — Harnessing Technology. This session seeks to discuss how technology can be a force of good and efficiency. The Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Courier Services  will be represented by A/Director Nathan Kupamupindi and in support will be seasoned IT expert Leslie Mukarati the Zesa Head of IT. This session will be combined with a special talk by Odeline Kava of Vakoma Business World.

Session 5 — Listing, Public Sector Reform and Alternative Means of Raising Capital. This session will feature the Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe’s Farai Mpofu as she talks about Zimbabwe’s capital market and explores the capital raising options with a focus on the public sector. Some of the traditional sources of funding are problematic e.g. unhelpful caveats, premiums and the risk of mortgaging the country’s resources.

This is against the backdrop of infrastructure and other capital expenditure to which long term funding must be directed, sustainably.

The public bear the brunt of the pricing and therefore the cost of expensive public sector programmes.

Mortgaging of the country’s natural resources is growing a concern.

The ZSE will be represented by Tinashe Mapara and the discussion will also look at raising capital and parastatal reform. The objective is to provide senior officials with options for restructuring and financing of the public sector.

Benefits of the convention

The convention is expected to foster collaboration, stimulate discussion and impart knowledge and skills to transform public sector officials to “Difference Makers” who foster transformation and seize opportunities for recovery and growth.

Of course two days of engagements is not enough to transform the public sector but the other interventions underway will all tie into seeing the public sector and ultimately the Zimbabwe we want.

The expectation is that any improvement to the public sector will benefit the entire economy therefore is in the public interest.

Timing and registrations

The event is scheduled for 21 and 22 October 2021 and will be held virtually. For further detail or registration contact Icaz on email technical@icaz.org.zw or pr@icaz.org.zw.

  • Mavengere is the technical manager at the Icaz, which is the largest and longest standing PAO in Zimbabwe, having been established on January 11, 1918, and is a body corporate incorporated under the Chartered Accountants Act (Chapter 27:02). Icaz provides leadership on the development, promotion and improvement of the accountancy profession focusing in the areas of accounting education, assurance, good governance practices and leadership and organisational excellence. — technical@icaz.org.zw or Twitter: @OwenMavengere.

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