JOHANNESBURG - Chartered account Lindani Dhlamini is on a mission to grow her leading black-owned auditing firm SekelaXabiso across Africa.
As the firm’s chief executive, she says she wants to nurture excellence rattled by the current KPMG crisis that has put a shadow on the profession.
In a wide-ranging interview with Business Report at her posh Sandton offices, Dhlamini, who has more than two decades’ worth of experience in the field, pulls no punches and speaks candidly about the accounting and auditing industry which has been in the news recently - for all the wrong reasons.
“It is really unfortunate that what is happening in our profession is really happening. I think we are at the edge of chaos, not only in our profession, but in our society at large, and this is where you see the calibre of the people you have because we are a very resilient country. The solutions are with us,” says Dhlamini.
Her commitment to excellence saw her winning the Southern Africa Business Woman of the Year, during the Southern Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards held in partnership with business TV broadcaster CNBC Africa last year.
She guardedly admits that Africa’s largest economy is “at the edge of chaos” in wake of reports that JSE-listed companies are dumping KPMG over serious concerns regarding its integrity and quality of work it done for the controversial Gupta family. Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has also questioned SizweNtsalubaGobodo on the quality of work the firm did after it initially gave state arms manufacturer Denel a clean audit without an iota of supporting evidence.
Dhlamini however believes that the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants have responded well to the unfolding saga. “I’m comforted by the fact that those two bodies have not buried their heads in the sand, they’ve said we’re going to look into this and we’re going to make sure that corrective action is taken’.”
She says a collaborative effort between government, business and civil society is needed to make sure the country reclaims its Number 1 ranking in global auditing and reporting standards. Image: Bhekikaya Mabaso.
Dhlamini says standards have not changed but people have manipulated them.
She also blames the current political climate for causing uncertainty for businesses. “I’m willing as a business person to do whatever it takes to contribute towards moving our country forward. But like I said it has to be a collaborative effort,” says Dhlamini, who could effortlessly give professional models a run for their money.
Dhlamini says they were “quite excited as black-owned firms” when the Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation was put forward because “we were seeing an opportunity for new players to come into the market, particularly in the JSE listed space”.
“Just over 60 percent of JSE entities are audited by four firms. That cannot be good in any society, so we were really hoping this rotation will open up opportunities for black firms. The industry is experiencing concentration which is not good.”
She calls on the market to be opened up because they are capable, skilled and competent. “All that is missing is the opportunity.”
She fondly recalls that when the company was founded 14 years ago “the vision was to build a firm where black excellence is celebrated, black excellence is acknowledged, and black excellence can just have its place where it can showcase its talent”.
They wanted to be counted among the top firms in the country and internationally “and I think we have achieved some level of success in that regard”.
Dhlamini continues: “We’ve got ambitions of growing into the rest of the continent and become a purely African firm and we want to continue with what we’ve been doing so far, to build black talent that can go out and run organisations.”
With so much going for her, Dhlamini seems to have taken heed of the African proverb that says - “Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter."
- BUSINESS REPORT