CFO South Africa launches public finance chapter


Heeding a call many Chief Financial Officers in the public sector have made over the last year or so, CFO South Africa has established a separate chapter for public CFOs. The Public Finance Chapter will give CFOs of departments, municipalities and other governmental bodies the opportunity to share knowledge, discuss challenges, network and listen to solutions that partner organisations have to offer.

To join, send an email to Jurriën Morsch.

The inaugural meeting of public CFOs took place at the Cape Town Club, a national monument in the mother city, on 13 November 2014 and was a resounding success. Afterwards acting SARS CFO Bob Head said the round table “was a lot more fun than I thought possible”, CFO Dumisani Dlamini of the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC) called the discussion “one of the most brilliant conversations I ever had” and Peter Goss of audit and advisory firm SizweNtsalubaGobodon said the planned regular meetings of the public chapter of South Africa will be “a critical enabler to our public sector growth”.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan has recently put great emphasis on the need for improvement among public CFOs. That is exactly where the Public Finance Chapter of CFO South Africa comes in, with an important role in the offing for the Accountant General and the Auditor General as well. “It is important that we take this public CFO group further and I am dedicated to do so,” says Melle Eijckelhoff, CEO of CFO South Africa, the leading network and knowledge sharing organisation for finance leaders in the country.

Clean audits AND clean water
During their first meeting, the public CFOs discussed how they could increase their impact on the performance of public organisations. They shared stories and openly told their peers about their successes and failures, their goals and their personal drive. “The environment in which they do their job is extremely complex and challenging. All of the participants were dealing with the balance between spending time to comply with the rules and regulations versus time to focus on the real performance issues,” said Eijckelhoff. “Clean audits and clean water are both demanding their attention.”

Dr Ivan Meyer, minister for finance in the Western Cape, remarked that discussions like this – “where we raise our arguments instead of our voices” – will get his full support and can contribute a great deal to the development of our public institutions and professionalism. “We now need to make sure we sustain the conversation,” said NAC CFO Dlamini. “CFOs have raised critical issues around legislation, audit and value for money. Each and every CFO seems to have pockets of solutions. If we have a coordinated approach, we can have a stronger impact. Most solutions are already there.”

Inspiring and fun
Eijckelhoff said is was inspiring to hear how the public CFOs are determined to have more impact beyond the boundaries of financial accounting. “And it was fun to share stories! We all agreed that the dialogue between CFOs, the auditor general and the accountant general should increase. Sharing ideas, experiences and solutions are the key towards continuous improvement.”

The participating CFOs at the inaugural meeting were: Rofhiwa Irene Singo (Department of Mineral Resources), Hulisani Bridget Ramugadi (Department of Transport), Clifford Appel (Department of Social Development), Semphete Mildred Oosterwyk (Economic Development Department), Bob Head (SARS), Manenzhe Manenzhe (Parliament), Callen Hodgkiss (HCPA), Irene Mathatho (Companies Tribunal), Vuyo Mafata (UIF), Bhavana Sewlall-Singh (Western Cape), Sumari Coetzee (Hantam Municipality), Abduraghman Regal (University of Western Cape) and Jobo Moshesh (SITA), Dumisani Dlamini (National Arts Council). The other participants were Peter Goss (Head of Forensics SizweNtsalubaGobodo), Riaan Wiggill (Financial support services at Government Motor Transport), Thys Giliomee (CEO Western Cape Liquor).

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