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"Strive for good values than success"

- By Schalk Mouton

Given the current state of poor governance and corruption in South Africa, the country is now in a desperate need of good leaders, with the highest values that constantly strive for excellence.

That was the message that Mr Bernard Algulhas had for the Wits BCom graduates and recipients of postgraduate diplomas at the afternoon graduation ceremony on Monday, 30 March 2015.

Algulhas, the CEO of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and a member of the King Committee for Corporate Governance, said that while South Africa has made great strides and have achieved a lot globally – including in the auditing field where the country is ranked first for the strength of its auditing and reporting standards – there is a threat to lose all that if we don’t put ethical behaviour and good performance at the forefront of everything we need to achieve.

“We are living in a time where corruption and maladministration are the order of the day and people are happy to go about their unethical business at the expense of the reputation of the country,” said Algulhas.

“It will take each and everyone of us sitting here today to denounce corruption and to decide to act against it.”

Algulhas said that ethics and good governance goes hand-in-hand with good values and challenged the new graduates to rather strive for good values, than for success.

“‘Good values’ is no foreign concept in the life of a professional. Now that you have achieved that, know that it is not enough, as each one of you must now also demonstrate consistency of values, principles, expectations, truthfulness and good ethics. 

Algulhas also said that South Africa still has a long way to go with regards to transformation.

“Transformation of our country has been slow in various sectors and faster in others. I come from a profession where we are still challenged by the issues of transformation. Over the years the auditing and accounting profession has battled to grow the numbers of black and female auditors and we are still facing that challenges to this day.”

Touching on the recent protests at the University of Cape Town over the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, Algulhas said that it is clear that there is a bigger debate that we need to have about how we preserve the history of our country and strive for transformation at the same time.

“An esteemed colleague of mine remarked that to truly address transformation going forward, we must first accept the past to enable us to properly eradicate the issues from the past,” he said.