Professional bodies aim to restore credibility to SA's private and public sectors

Professional bodies unite to ensure accountability as corruption complaints against members escalate.

In the wake of a litany of complaints about corruption and state capture activities, six professional bodies have embarked on an initiative to pool their resources and institutional knowledge. The aim is to foster a culture of accountability and restore credibility to South Africa’s private and public sectors. 

The bodies involved in the initiative are members of the Anti-Intimidation and Ethical Practices Forum (AEPF) and include the Institute of Internal Auditors SA (IIA SA), the Institute of Risk Management SA (IRMSA), the SA Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa (CSSA), the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA) and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)

The AEPF is made up of professional bodies and was formed to encourage whistleblowing and help eradicate corruption and unethical business practices. Together, the organisations involved represent over 44,000 of South Africa’s company directors, company secretaries, internal auditors, accountants, fraud examiners and risk management professionals. 

This week, they signed a memorandum of understanding that will see them working together in tackling complaints against their members. 
Chair of the AEPF and CEO of the IIA SA, Dr Claudelle von Eck says the primary rationale behind the initiative is to ensure greater accountability by its members, those who move from one profession to another, as well as those who are members of more than one professional body.  

“Professional bodies need to work together as an important line of defence. In doing so, we are in a much better position to execute their mandate that requires them to work in the interest of the public. Protecting the interest of the public is a key element in the mandate of professional bodies and central to this is holding professionals accountable against a code of ethics as well as professional standards.” 

She says the initiative will now see, for example, standardised protocols across the board while cases against those holding more than one membership will be coordinated. 

She adds:

“Professional bodies have thus come under increasing pressure to hold their members accountable - and visibly so.”

The collaboration agreement will now ensure:
•    Professionals will not be able to use loopholes to evade being held accountable,
•    Proper mechanisms of disclosure are put in place,
•    The professional bodies can speak with one voice where an individual holds multiple designations and/or memberships,
•    The unnecessary duplication of effort is avoided, and
•    Costs that can sometimes run into the hundreds of thousands can be contained.