President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Auditing Profession Amendment Act into law, with the legislation expected to be a critical tool in the fight against state and corporate capture and corruption.
Alongside further controls for the profession, the bill gives greater power to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, including the ability to enter and search any premises with the prior consent of their owner or the person in control.
It also gives the board the power to subpoena any person to appear before the committee or panel concerned and provide requested information.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni has previously said that the Act will help restore the profession’s reputation, which has been damaged by numerous accounting scandals in recent years.
Trade federation Cosatu has welcomed the move, noting that auditors have a legal and fiduciary duty to ensure good governance in both the public and private sectors.
“It has been extensively shown at the many sessions of the Commission of Enquiry into corruption state capture, that countless auditors were not only complicit but in many cases helped to facilitate the industrial looting of state and private sector companies.”
Cosatu said that workers are now paying the price in the collapse of key SOEs and municipalities, the disintegration of badly needed public services, and in many cases lost wages and retrenchment.
“Workers in the private sector have not emerged unscathed as supposedly clean publicly listed companies were fleeced. Here too workers have lost wages and jobs.
“Public and private sector workers’ hard-earned pensions too were pickpocketed when they were invested in such companies.”