CA Solomon Mphakathi’s career has been dedicated to helping others grow


Solomon Mphakathi battled to afford tertiary education when he was younger, but managed – through a combination of guts and determination – to attain his current role as business unit leader of finance at the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA).

Solomon Mphakathi comes from a poor, rural town called Qumanco in the Eastern Cape, and didn’t believe he would be able to study further after completing matric, but he was determined to try. “Halfway through high school I looked at options that would help me achieve my objective. Accounting was the most attractive option. At that time, it seemed that if you at least had accounting, you would have the likelihood of getting a job after matric.” This led him to change subjects.

When a professor from Nelson Mandela University visited Solomon’s school and explained that it was possible to become a chartered accountant, Solomon knew that would be his calling.

In a serendipitous occurrence, a teacher also explained to Solomon that there were ways of accessing funding to study further, such as through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). “Fortunately enough, when I applied, I was accepted at the University of Fort Hare. ”

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Solomon completed his BComm in accounting at the university and later did his honours at Nelson Mandela University. He has since completed the Senior Leader’s Development Programme in business administration and management, and completed his Masters of Management in the field of finance and investment (MMFI) from the University of Witwatersrand. He has also completed the Executive Leadership Development Programme at Wits Business School.

His career started at the Auditor-General of South Africa, where he was a trainee after completing his honours. In 2010, Solomon joined Transnet Engineering as a corporate governance manager, and in 2012 he was appointed as a senior finance manager. In 2015, he was appointed the CFO of Joburg City Theatres, where he stayed until March 2022. He served another brief stint with the Joburg City Theatres again in 2023 on a contract basis for three months.

“I'm very passionate about what I do. I always say to people I don't know what I would be if I was not an accountant. For me, there was no other option but to become an accountant. And I enjoy it so much.”

He started at the AGSA in August 2023, joining from the Joburg Market, where he was acting CEO for about 10 months, on contract. There, he shares proudly, Solomon took the entity from one in which there was no trust to one that received a clean audit from the AGSA.

At the AGSA, Solomon deals with a budget of R5 billion, whereas he dealt with between R200 million and R300 million at the Joburg Market. “I'm heading a team of about 200 professionals. I have two deputies and 10 senior managers, about 22 managers in total. These team members are from diverse backgrounds, work diligently, have energy, and are willing to go the extra mile,” he explains.

Solomon loves working with people. He especially enjoys seeing young people grow and become better at what they do. “As a result, I spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring young people, sharing the legacy from 20 years of experience. I encourage them to continuously improve. Not only academically, but also in the way you do your job. You must always seek better ways.”

He explains humbly that young people will seek him out and grab him for five minutes to engage and ask him questions, leaning on his wisdom. “When they trust and believe in you, they go miles to make sure that they achieve their organisational objectives. And I've seen that happening so many times.”

Helping the youth grow

Largely due to his personal experience, Solomon gives back to those struggling to further their tertiary studies. In 2016, he and some school friends founded the Sakh’ikamva Youth Development Foundation, which helps with youth development and provides necessary tools, such as stationery, shoes, scientific calculators, and sanitary pads to those in need. Plans are also under way to develop computer labs since these have become so vital in everyday schooling.

“Our mission, mandate, and our role is really to support young people from the rural communities that we come from. We target schools around the area where we come from. In 2023 we were able to, through donations, collect 181 pairs of shoes, and we brought smiles to 181 kids.”

The friends have also collected 70 calculators and help ensure that learners send their tertiary studies applications on time. “In 2016, we were also able to assist four learners financially to help them go to university. Those learners have graduated and are now working. That's gratifying. It's quite exciting to be doing that kind of work.”

Solomon expects to be in his current role for the next three to five years, after which he wants to become a CFO at either Eskom or Transnet. He may also set his sights on the private sector, ensuring good corporate governance and solid audits as he develops his career further.

When he isn’t helping to develop the youth at home or the people at work, Solomon is a family man and an avid soccer supporter. In fact, you’ll find him on the soccer field most weekends.

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