TIME TO TAKE ACCOUNTING PROFESSION SERIOUSLY

By By Francis Mukuzunga
September 2010
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NAMIBIA is experiencing an acute shortage of chartered accountants (CAs) such that the key institutions such as the Office of the Auditor General and the Ministry of Finance do not have qualified CAs. The situation is so desperate that one concerned CA, Junius Mungunda of Deloitte Namibia calls for the matter to be treated with the urgency it deserves.

Mungunda is the Managing Partner of Deloitte in Namibia and his primary duty for the last three years since his promotion to the position of Managing Partner involves strengthening the global firm’s presence in the country.

Mungunda became Namibia’s first black managing partner to be appointed by Deloitte after the retirement of long serving head of the firm’s Namibian operations, Jens Kuehhirt in January 2007.

“Basically my role is to consolidate the firm’s position as the firm of choice for young and freshly graduated CAs. I also make sure that we provide quality service to our clients and that this service is delivered by highly qualified and competent people,” begins Mungunda.

He maintains that decision makers should make an assessment of the shortage of CAs and come up with a national strategy that could include, among other things, offering scholarships to aspiring accounting students, the same way as this is done for science and engineering fields.

In addition, Mungunda says the shortage of CAs in the public service, “people responsible for national finances, should be seen as a national ulcer.”

According to Mungunda, from the current statistics, South Africa enjoys a ratio of one Chartered Accountant for every 2,000 of its citizens whereas in Namibia, the ratio is one CA for every 10 000 Namibian citizens, surpassing the South African average by over five times.

“My understanding is that we have over 300 qualified chartered accountants and yet the country needs over 1,000 at this point. Taking into account we have about 20 to 30 CAs qualifying each year means that we are not making any headway in that regard as a country.”

According to Mungunda, it will take Namibia between 20 to 40 years to cover the skills shortage gap at the current rate of growth in the accounting field, therefore some serious measures have to be taken through training and qualifying more local accountants.

He is quick to note though, that the issue of training should not be left in the hands of the private sector alone as government should also play its part.

Deloitte’s contribution

Deloitte has played its part for Namibia in as far as the training and qualifying of its accounting staff is concerned, thus Mungunda.

“With the current shortage of CAs in the country, we are pleased to note that we are well placed in this area. Our firm currently has 23 charted accountants in its employ, of which 11 are qualified black accountants that should be the largest concentration of black chartered accountants anywhere in Namibia. Deloitte has on average, produced a third of Namibia’s chartered accountants over the last six years, and over 50% of all black chartered accountants in Namibia,” he mentions.

An indication of the company’s commitment to train Namibians in this regard is the fact that Deloitte has spent close to N$1million annually in its scholarship programme over the last six years.

Under the programme, University graduates in the fields of accounting, or other related areas are chosen as trainee accountants by the firm and then go through a series of courses, performance appraisals and formal examinations until they qualify as Chartered Accountants.

The trainees are often seconded to other Deloitte offices around the world for further experience and upon their return they often choose to remain with the firm.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting and risk advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With globally connected network of member firms in 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and deep local expertise to help clients succeed wherever they operate.

The firm’s clientele covers a wide sector of operations, and some of the companies under its stable include MTC, Telecom Namibia, Namdeb, GIPF, Namfisa, Barloworld Group, De Beers, FNB Namibia, Hollard Insurance, Murray &Roberts, Nedbank, Othalver & List Group, Oryx Properties, Rosh Pinah Zinc, Skorpion Zinc, Taeuber & Corssen, Tunacor Group, Wilderness Safaris and Uramin Areva Uranium Mine.

“As a firm, we are dedicated to the development of our Namibian staff. We do this through the provision of bursaries to Namibians, particularly those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, to study towards their qualifications as accountants.

Some of the most noted business leaders now working in several of Namibia’s key organizations and private companies have passed through Deloitte, and these include Theo Saunderson of Saunderson & Co, Erwin Tjipuka, Chief Financial Officer, FNB Namibia, Sven Thieme (O & L) among others.

Deloitte has a set of strategic objectives that the company follows to make the firm’s operations successful.

“Firstly, it is important that we provide superior service to our clients. Secondly, the people are viewed as the firm’s greatest asset and we make sure that we have highly qualified and trained people working for us. Lastly, we have put in place measures to gauge our service offerings against our clients’ expectations.”

The company’s focus is on audit services, but the firm also has a tax division specialising in areas such as corporate tax, VAT, PAYE, and Risk Advisory Services division specialising in computer audit and internal audit services. The Special Services Group is a new division which provides consulting and similar services based on the needs of the clients.

“The services we provide are valuable to capital markets, the business environment and the government in helping them operate efficiently and effectively.

The operating environment of the accounting profession has undergone tremendous change during the past two years, with the introduction of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and International Standards on Auditing (ISA) as well as the shift from a self-regulated environment to one of significant new regulation and oversight.

“Given this, it is imperative that we continue to pay close attention to issues of public trust, independence, and accountability as well our social and community contributions as a key player in the business landscape in Namibia.

It is also important that we have a positive influence on our communities by engaging in projects and alliances with organisation to the benefit of society and our stakeholders. We have over the years been entrusted by the government to assist with a number of strategic interventions in the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) sector.

Examples include the studies into the SOE sector in 1996 and 1999 as well as the review of the SOE Governance Policy Framework, which formed the basis of the current SOE Governance Act. Lately we have assisted with the review of the SOEs remuneration framework,” Mungunda explains.

The company sees the key benefits of these studies as being, inter alia: improving understanding among all stakeholders of governance practices and processes being followed at SOEs; prompting the application of best practices and informing the debate regarding ongoing governance reform at organization and policy levels.

“The future of Deloitte Namibia is very positive and I am immensely excited about it. Our future is centred on our clients, focused on delivering quality and developing our people. We are seeing significant strengthening of our computer assurance, and consulting services,”Mungunda adds.

Personal Background

Heading such a large and internationally recognized organization in Namibia is no mean task for Mungunda, but he believes that his fellow management team members and staff members have helped to make this task manageable. Furthermore, he has an excellent track record and educational background to prove this point

Born in 1973, Mungunda attended primary and secondary school in Ovitoto and Okakarara. He obtained a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Namibia where he was named the Best Student in the Faculty of Economics and Management in 1992 and 1993. He also enrolled for a postgraduate diploma in accountancy from Rhodes University in South Africa and got a merit award from the Cape Society of Chartered Accountants for the best advanced taxation student in 1995. He passed the final qualifying exams required for qualifying as Chartered Accountant in 1996.

Growing up in the rural areas and coming to town for the first time to study commerce and accounting was one of his major challenges. However, because of sheer determination, and the zeal for wanting to know more kept him going.

During the college years, Mungunda was involved in student politics particularly with the Namibia National Students Organisation, Nanso, but the academic field took the better of his political aspirations.

“However, I had colleagues like Phanuel Kaapama who is now a political commentator and lecturer at UNAM as well as Pohamba Shifeta, now a Deputy Minister who have taken politics to greater heights. It’s actually good to know that as we grow older we are all contributing to our nation’s development, albeit in our own different ways,” says Mungunda .

He has been with Deloitte Namibia since 1996 when he joined the firm as trainee accountant and rose through the ranks to become managing partner today.

He spent some time on secondment to the Deloitte (Chicago) in the USA office where he was in charge of coordinating audits for multinational clients.

“My Chicago experience was invaluable for my development, especially at that stage of life. Living in a big metropolis, learning to drive on the right hand side of the road, leaving my flat at 6am for work only to return home at 22h00 every night was part of the invaluable life experience. It was during the hey days of Michael Jordan at the Chicago Bulls and getting to watch those games was awesome.”

Amongst the many professional assignments and jobs he has undertaken, he singles out the establishment of the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) in 2004 and the Namibia Financial Services Authority (Namfisa) in 2001 as his highlights.

“I was honoured to have been an integral part of the teams that established these two key institutions in our country. I had the opportunity to work closely with high calibre people such as the late Lazarus Ipangelwa, Sven Thieme, David Nuyoma and others.

We worked hard, sometimes into the nights engaging stakeholders, clarifying mandates, structures and business plans. I am happy to have played that part.”

An avid farmer, away from a hectic work schedule, Mungunda tries as much as possible to spend time with his family although he finds it challenging. He is married to Inoo and the couple have four children comprising of three boys Mbayoo (9), Vihape (6), Uhorera (3) and one year old girl Venouwa.PF