Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe
Associate | Established: 1971 | Associate since 2020
ICSAZ is a division of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in the United Kingdom established by the Chartered Secretaries (Private) Act (Chapter 27:03). ICSAZ is authorized to administer examinations, register members and firms, administer continuing professional development, enforce compliance with the code of professional conduct, conduct investigations of members, and take appropriate disciplinary actions as required. Overall, according to the World Bank’s Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC)—Accounting and Auditing: Zimbabwe (2011) the institute is in the process of transition from an administration and secretarial institute and most of its members are employed in accounting or management positions.
The Zimbabwe branch of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), incorporated by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom along with the Zimbabwe branch of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, incorporated by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom are also considered principal PAOs.
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
SMO 1: Quality Assurance
Presently, members of ICSAZ are not authorized to conduct external audits and are therefore not subject to the QA reviews of the PAAB. The institute actively participates and supports the PAAB in its adoption of relevant international standards, such as ISA 220 and ISQC 1. ICSAZ will circulate any technical updates to its members in the form of magazines, newsletters, CPD training, and conferences to keep members informed.
ICSAZ has advised that the PAAB intends to start an Auditor Development Program—a 1.5-year program to gain and demonstrate audit experience. ICSAZ indicates that its Associate and Fellow members would be eligible to pursue the program and subsequently be certified by the PAAB as RPAs. To prepare for this, ICSAZ reported that it was researching software to strengthen its monitoring of members’ quality control and quality of current work. It is in contact with two vendors, one of which supports the ICAZ with its internal quality assurance and control reviews.
Both ICAZ and PAFA noted that ICSAZ would benefit from more regularly reviewing and categorizing its membership according to those that practice as RPAcc and those as governance professionals to monitor compliance. ICSAZ agreed with this and plans for the institute to carry out compliance checks of its own and inquire with employers on the quality of services provided by its members. Any non-compliance could be referred through its I&D procedures.
ICSAZ may wish to explore international examples of peer PAOs which have developed programs of quality assurance for non-audit services. As many of the institute’s members are involved in management accounting, working with other institutes that have similar membership structures—and exploring how QA may be expanded to include accountants and non-audit services—may enhance the regulation which the Institute maintains over its members. Furthermore, as ICSAZ has stated it is seeking to enhance its qualification such that members can conduct audits, the institute should proactively guide and prepare its members for QA reviews that they would be subject to by the PAAB in the future. In addition to beginning reviews for non-audit services already provided, this might include training on the PAAB’s system, disseminating QA review lessons learned, supporting targeted training (in areas / themes where deficiencies are noted) and raising awareness of the new quality management standards issued by the IAASB.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
ICSAZ is authorized to establish initial and continuing professional development (IPD and CPD) requirements for its members under the oversight of the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB) which is charged with prescribing the minimum qualifications, competency standards and requirements for registration of all accountancy professionals; accrediting institutions that provide accountancy qualifications and education; evaluating and monitoring the standards of qualifying examinations, courses, and training set or offered by professional accountancy organizations; and promoting the standardization of qualifying examinations on common subjects. Universities provide part of the IPD accountancy education. ICSAZ examinations are also moderated by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators International. The minimum entry requirements for ICSAZ are the same as those for admission into a recognized university degree program.
ICSAZ requires candidates to acquire intellectual skills, ethical, technical and functional skills, personal skills, and interpersonal and business management skills, through education and work related training (for a minimum of six years), prior to becoming a member and passing its examinations. ICSAZ maintains a list of accredited colleges for students interested in pursuing the CIS qualification. ICSAZ states that its education programming and requirements are derived from the IES requirements and oversees a competency framework of both professional accountants in business, public sector, and those in auditing. The PAAB is responsible for reviewing and approving ICSAZ’s syllabus to ensure alignment with the IES.
ICSAZ is considering an enhanced practical training program for 2021 that aligns with IES 5. ICSAZ explained it intends to arrange for practical experience in accounting and auditing firms as articled clerks. Currently, supervisors are to write reports on what the prospective candidate has done and submit these to ICSAZ’s membership committee for review.
As of 2019, members are required to attain 120 hours of CPD with CPD returns submitted annually. The institute facilitates access to CPD opportunities and resources for its members through the organization of annual conferences and CPD seminars. ICSAZ reports that it includes topical, technical issues in its CPD in addition to including current issues and themes within its examinations.
ICSAZ should further clarify as to whether its education programming and its practical experience approach aligns with the latest IES requirements—which emphasize learning-outcome approaches regarding IPD requirements and ensure that professional accountant candidates demonstrate competencies. Additionally, as ICSAZ has stated it is seeking to enhance its qualification such that members can conduct external audits, it may need to reflect upon—and consider how—it adapts its professional examination and continuing professional development offerings to ensure members’ competencies in this area. Outlining and identifying the specific actions and activities which will need to be taken to prepare and assist their membership with this organizational shift will be integral to the success of these efforts.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
In accordance with amendments to its founding legislation, auditing standards adopted by the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB) receive legal backing. The PAAB has adopted all ISA and other pronouncements issued by the IAASB as issued, without any amendments or modifications. ICSAZ is involved in supporting the standard-setting process by submitting comments to exposure drafts issued by the PAAB.
However, as the key membership demographic of ICSAZ are professionals that do not provide external audit services, it does not seem to currently have a direct role in furthering the implementation of ISA nationally.
ICSAZ has indicated that it plans to have its Associate and Fellows members be eligible to conduct external audits once the PAAB opens its Audit Development Program (ADP). The launch of the ADP is not known at this time.
The institute reports that it began including ISA-related questions as part of its examination in 2019; arranges for practical experience in audit firms; and provides CPD on audit and assurance. Additionally, ICSAZ notes that it does maintain mechanisms for providing technical advice to members, and issues magazines and technical newsletters—in which it informs and updates members on important issues related to ISA and other professional and ethical standards.
ICSAZ is encouraged to continue efforts to advance the implementation of auditing standards in Zimbabwe. Given the number of PAOs within the country and that its members do not presently conduct audits, ICSAZ is encouraged to see how it might leverage the work of other PAOs which may have a more direct role in the implementation of ISA to determine where (or if) there is a role for the institute in further supporting ISA adoption and implementation nationally. At the same time, ICSAZ has indicated that it plans to have its members be eligible to conduct external audits. If this is the case, it is encouraged to further identify how it is educating members on ISA and providing other implementation support (i.e. guides, checklists) so that they would be readily prepared to conduct audits in advance of any legal changes.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
In Zimbabwe, both the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB) and its recognized principal and associate professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) are responsible for defining ethical practice and codes of conduct for registered persons and members, respectively. The PAAB has adopted the IESBA Code of Ethics as issued for all professional accountants within the jurisdiction. The restructured Code is applicable as of January 1, 2019. As a principal PAO, ICSAZ reports that its members adhere to the IESBA Code of Ethics and that it, in accordance with its founding legislation, has also issued a Member Code of Conduct that mirrors the IESBA Code.
ICSAZ indicates that it supports members and students with the implementation of ethical requirements through workshops, seminars, and “Winter Schools” along with technical newsletters that highlight any new developments and deal with real world technical issues members encounter every day when doing their work. Topical issues related to the IESBA Code are also included in CPD events and its annual conferences. For example, in May 2019 and August 2019, ICSAZ offered CPD on ethical leadership and corruption in the private and public sector.
The institute also offers access to a Tips Anonymous telephone hotline run by Deloitte & Touche.
In support of the PAAB’s standard-setting procedures, ICSAZ circulates any drafts or issues that require public comments or may issue a public survey on the matter to receive input prior to submitting a comment to the PAAB.
Considering the restructured and revised 2018 International Code of Ethics that is now applicable, ICSAZ should indicate that it has planned more specific implementation support, in order for members to ensure their continued understanding and adherence to the Code. ICSAZ could also report more on its efforts to raise awareness among key stakeholders in the government and business on the importance of its Code of Conduct.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
Public sector accounting standards are established in the Public Finance Management Act (Chapter 22:19) which requires public sector entities to be prepared on a customized cash-accounting basis. However, the Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General have decided to adopt IPSAS and the government is working to adopt a new legal framework that requires accrual-basis IPSAS for public sector entities. Implementation of accrual-IPSAS has already begun with local government authorities based on a phased plan and it is envisioned that the full implementation of accrual-basis IPSAS will occur in 2025.
ICSAZ is actively involved in supporting the adoption process, preparing to support the implementation of IPSAS, and strengthening the public sector accountancy capacity overall. The institute states it has offered CPD to government training centers in Harare, Bulawayo, and Gweru on IPSAS and has met with government leaders to outline how the institute can assist in the migration from cash-basis to accrual-basis IPSAS.
Additionally, the government and the PAAB are currently working on building capacity amongst public sector accounting officers through workshops and trainings with the support of a DFID-funded IFAC PAO Capacity Building project. ICSAZ is one of two PAOs (the other being ICAZ) that will offer a public sector qualification intended to strengthen the capacity of Zimbabwean public sector professionals. ICSAZ welcomed its first intake of students in June 2019.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
ICSAZ, as a principal PAO, has established I&D procedures. ICSAZ indicates its system is operational. It has an Investigation Committee, which includes all professional accountants, and a Disciplinary Committee, which comprises some non-professionals. In the last three years, there have been three investigations carried out based on complaints, but none resulted in disciplinary actions.
I&D cases are not only initiated via complaints but also may be information-based. ICSAZ’s I&D system includes a range of penalties which include exclusion from membership or removal of practicing rights.
ICSAZ has undertaken an assessment of its I&D system against the SMO 6 best practices and notes that its system is largely in compliance. However, it has identified gaps in the following areas: not all results of I&D proceedings may be available to the public—all results are shared with its membership—and a process for independent review of complaints with no follow-up could be established.
The institute notes that its system is regularly reviewed to align with ICSAZ by-laws, national laws, and international best practices to make any necessary amendment that might arise.
As part of its public interest considerations, ICSAZ is encouraged to make the results of I&D proceedings public (unless restricted by legal framework). If this requires changes to the by-laws, the institute should outline a timeline and steps it might take to begin this process. Further information is encouraged regarding specific efforts to raise public awareness and education of the ICSAZ I&D system, as three cases might indicate that the wider public does not know how to file a complaint with the institute.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
In accordance with 2015 amendments to its founding legislation, corporate accounting standards adopted by the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB) received legal backing. The PAAB has adopted all IFRS and IFRS for Small- and Medium-sized Entities (SMEs) as issued by the IASB.
ICSAZ is similarly involved in supporting the PAAB’s accounting, standard-setting, and implementation process as it is with auditing standards.
Prior to becoming an ICSAZ member, candidates must pass ICSAZ examinations which include sections on accounting and corporate reporting that cover IFRS. Among its members, ICSAZ indicates that it supports implementation of the IFRS and IFRS for SMEs by (a) offering training through its continuing professional development program, (b) covering IFRS in its annual conferences, and (c) issuing a quarterly technical newsletter to support challenges members might face in the workplace. The institute will also circulate updates related to the standards.
ICSAZ is encouraged to continue efforts to advance the implementation of IFRS and IFRS for SMEs in Zimbabwe and to continue to provide insight into specific anticipated actions, activities, and awareness building campaigns in its Action Plan.
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