CIGFARO is Working Build Trust, Capacity and Development

By Koketso Mamabolo

“Professionalisation is about building trust,” said Wesgro CFO, Sandiso Gcwabe, at the annual Chartered Institute of Government Finance, Audit & Risk Officers (CIGFARO) conference held in Cape Town in late October. He was speaking on a panel discussion which focused on the fundamentals of professionalising the public sector. Trust is an integral part of public service. Whether it be national, provincial or local government, the public needs to be assured that public officials have their best interests at heart. This is why the National Development Plan (NDP) includes an emphasis on the urgent need to professionalise the public sector to meet the needs of the general public.

Sandiso described the dimensions of professionalisation: ability, integrity, dependability and purpose. With historical imbalances, uneven development and a lack of service delivery, South Africa’s approach is a developmental one. And, as highlighted in the NDP, building a strong, capable state is a key step to achieving the nation’s goals, a sentiment also shared by CIGFARO President, Dr Emmanuel Ngcobo, not long after the conference, who explained to Public Sectors Leaders that, “Regarding professionalisation, this critical and important national agenda does not only require intentional implementation plan, but also strategic appointment of clear roles and responsibilities by all stakeholders involved, This is to ensure that ‘all hands are on deck’ to eliminate chaos, duplication and inefficiency with the ultimate intention of realising intended goals and outcomes.”


(Cigfaro President, Dr Emmanuel Ngcobo, Image Courtesy of CIGFARO)

According to the National School of Government the process of professionalisation has five pillars:

  1. Pre-entry, recruitment and selection
  2. Induction and onboarding
  3. Planning and performance management
  4. Continuous learning and professional development
  5. Career development and incidents

The last two in particular – continuous learning and professional development, along with career development and incidents – were the main focus areas of the “Professionalising the Public Sector” panel discussion at the CIGFARO conference, which was moderated by Khalid Hamid, International Director of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

In his opening remarks, Khalid explained that good financial management is a prerequisite to good service delivery, specifically at the local government level, where low capacity and outsourcing of financial statements are recurring problems. The National School of Government has echoed these sentiments by highlighting the importance of professionalising public financial management.

Professionalism is at the core of CIGFARO’s work, which began over 90 years ago. The organisation provides a framework for what professionalism should look like and works tirelessly to create an ecosystem of good governance and financial management. Their initiatives, with conferences merely being one aspect, involve contributing to the development of finance and governance practitioners. In a nutshell, CIGFARO is at the forefront of the trust-building which Sandiso Gcwabe described.

To achieve their objectives, CIGFARO has partnered with organisations such as CIPFA, a UK-based public finance organisation whom they’ve had a relationship with for a few years. “We are now expanding our vision by incorporating and utilising their cutting-edge accredited qualifications which would lead to the accelerated growth and development of our members, as well as receiving recognition as members of CIPFA,” explains Dr Ngcobo.

Other partners include the Government Finance Officers Association of the USA & Canada, which Dr Ngcobo says, “are both important and highly impactful in a global environment for knowledge, upgrading and best practice sharing for more efficient functioning of governments.” At the local level their strategic partners include National Treasury, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA), amongst others, and they are the South African Qualifications Authority’s recognised body for public sector financial management.

“The intentions of these strategic alliances are clear: We need to collaborate and not compete with one another,” says Dr Ngcobo. “We need to complement one another so that we are able to reach the desired objective of a professionalised public sector. This works best when there is the shared drive to see constructive and positive change. Therefore, there must be an integrated approach and commitment to work together to achieve this extremely important task so that ultimately our beautiful country can flourish and the next generation can step into a brighter future. It’s a responsibility we must all take ownership of.”

With the commitment of organisations such as CIGFARO and CIPFA, the future of public service looks bright.

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