By Oupa Segalwe
South Africas Auditor-General Terence Nombembe has committed R3, 8 million to help the University of Fort Hare produce the countrys future crop of quality chartered accountants.
The Auditor Generals office signed an agreement with the university in East London,to mark the beginning of a long-term partnership envisaged to see the AG financially supporting the university on an annual basis.
Through the partnership, the AG will provide financial support to ensure that the university is accredited to train post-graduate students studying towards the Certificate in Theory of Accounting (CTA).
The support will be in the form of a subsidy for the cost of hiring additional lecturers to help train future accountants and meet the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA) accreditation requirements.
These requirements include the need to establish a strong CTA programme, not just a commendable undergraduate programme that the university currently has.
Speaking after the signing of the agreement, Mr Nombembe said the move would ensure thorough transformation of the countrys auditing industry.
"This investment will have a significant benefit of sustaining the transformation of the profile of accountants in South Africa,' he said.
South Africa has a shortage of African chartered accountants, the AGs office said.
At the end of October 2006, the country had 25 346 chartered accountants. Of these, 2 887 were black, which accounts for 11 percent.
From the 11 percent, 735 were of African decent, 431 coloured and 1 721 were Indians.
Furthermore, female chartered accountants made up only 5 827 of the total figure of 25 346.
The female accountants were made up of 250 of African decent, 185 coloured and 555 Indians.
Mr Nombembe, South Africas first black Auditor-General in the offices 95-year history said the project would help reduce the skills shortage in the auditing field.
"We recognize that the auditing industry has a big shortage of skills. Initiatives like this are aimed at closing the skills gap,' Mr Nombembe said.
Head of the Accounting Department at Fort Hare Temba Zakuza said the project was an opportunity to attract and retain suitably qualified academics.
"We want to position Fort Hare to be the launch pad of accountants in the Eastern Cape and in South Africa as a whole,' Mr Zakuza said.
The AG trains 650 accountants every year, 90 percent of whom are black.
This includes investing in various bursary programmes that support students who study both part-time and on a full-time basis.