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Underrepresentation of Africans in the CA profession needs intense attention

Dr Sedzani Musundwa

Superbly following her calling, the young Dr Sedzani Musundwa of Unisa's College of Accounting Sciences and the first female black Chartered Accountant, CA (SA), to obtain a PhD in Accounting Sciences at Unisa says she has mixed emotions about the achievement. Musundwa elaborates: "It is exciting to be celebrated, but it is also tragic." She continues: "If we are still celebrating 'the first black…' in 2022, it means we have a long way to go before we reach equitable representation."

For Musundwa, the underrepresentation of black Africans in the CA profession in South Africa persists even in democracy. She firmly believes that the transformation of the profession and the economy that it dominates could be achieved if black Africans are given a fighting chance at obtaining the qualification. Musundwa notes that black Africans aspire to have a lucrative income and job security in such professions, especially in a country flawed by high youth unemployment rates and rampant poverty.

She acknowledges that enrolment rates for accounting qualifications have increased significantly. "However," she says, "the drop-out rates of black Africans as compared to other ethnicities are disproportionately high." To address this, she mentions that diversity researchers within the profession are exploring the possibility of education models that respond to socio-economically diversified student cohorts. Additionally, they are pursuing education that is essentially built for a South African society rather than imported from Western-based ideologies.

Musundwa remarks: "The scant research around African-based responsive education in accounting calls for qualitative researchers to analyse the challenges contributing to the high failure rate of black candidates." She adds: "Accounting teachers who work with students in a classroom setting are also called on to engage with the frustrations of the students empathetically. Further, the firms that provide platforms for learnerships are called on to partner with academia to fund and collaborate in research and experiences that will provide insights into the attrition that needs to be curbed."

Pursuing her passion through Unisa

Musundwa excelled in accounting at school and later received a full bursary from an accounting firm. "This motivated me to pursue the CA profession specifically," she says. Noting inequality in the education system, Musundwa maintains that it shaped her specialisation of "the sociology of accounting".

Musundwa chose Unisa as a suitable institution to study for a PhD. "It is an institution that prides itself on shaping futures in the service of humanity. This spoke to my passion of wanting to bring to the fore the faces and voices of those affected by the profession, so it was a natural fit."

For Musundwa, beyond its prestigious reputation, accounting affects people's lives daily. Therefore, within her academic work, incorporating black people's lived experiences into what they learn academically, such as decolonising the curriculum, stands out as a priority. She concludes: "Early awareness and exposure to the world of accounting through platforms such as community engagement and career guidance for those marginalised by societal ills stand as my other major priority."

Read Dr Sedzani Musundwa's More than just balancing the books article.

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2022/10/18