Bongi Ngoma looking forward to her new role as head of audit at AGSA

CFO Bongi Ngoma was promoted to head of audit at the Auditor-General of South Africa in June.

In June, Auditor-General South Africa’s (AGSA’s) Bongi Ngoma was promoted to the national head of audit after serving as CFO for nine years.

Bongi explains that she will miss the people in the finance portfolio in particular, as well as the unique challenge of managing and navigating finances in a complex public sector space. “It’s not always easy to be the CFO, the environment is uncertain, complex and forever changing. As the CFO, you must always be agile and on your toes. I will miss this adrenaline rush.” As CFO, Bongi was nominated for at the 2021 CFO Awards,

She adds that she walks away with lifelong lessons, and is excited about this new venture. “I am looking forward to adding value in a number of areas. Operationally, to integrate technology in improving our ways of work and resultant outputs. Externally, I am looking forward to sharing deep insights that would add value to our stakeholders.”

Bongi explains that she is looking forward to playing her part in crafting and delivering messages that connect with the citizens and stakeholders. “Most importantly, I am looking forward to ensuring that the lives of our citizens and their lived experiences improve as a result of the work we do. I am looking forward to a South Africa that lives up to its promises as premised in the constitution – a South Africa that ensures the citizens become the best version of themselves.”

New responsibilities
According to Bongi, the scope of work for the head of audit is significant and entails greater strategic depth, including direction setting for the organisation. It encompasses the leadership and steering of the audit portfolio and its executives while ensuring that the objectives of the organisation are realised.

She explains that the head of audit also deputises the CEO in guiding the audit machinery (people and leaders) to ensure the delivery of audits is conducted in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The role also drives the re-engineering of audit messages and recommendations so they are of high quality and impact, and succinct, with a call to action that resonates with AGSA’s stakeholders.

“The role exposes me to a number of stakeholders in various aspects of the public sector, including those charged with oversight of the public purse and the administration of government departments,” she explains. “In these interactions I will be ensuring that our recommendations are understood and that leadership and accounting officers execute their roles efficiently and in line with the prescripts of PFMA.”

Advice for her successor
She will continue to act in the role of the CFO until AGSA has appointed a new CFO. Asked if she had any advice for her successor, Bongi said that they must be courageous enough to speak the truth to power and always trust the numbers. “The CFO role is powerful: I always call it the pulse of the organisation. No pulse, no life. Be the trusted advisor of the CEO and the board.”

She explains that trust means a lot of things, but that it’s important for the incoming CFO to frame what it means for themself.

“The new CFO must always be futuristic in their thinking, with a vivid picture of success. Then work backwards to implement that,” she adds. “The CFO will need to appreciate that they will be leading a team of professionals who are hard-working and dedicated, but also need to feel heard and empowered.”

Bongi says that the CFO must never give in to naysayers and doubters, and must ignore the noise and distractions. “Be relentless in achieving the end goal, as tough as it may be, but stay true to that goal.”