The Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA) welcomes the President’s emphasis in his State of the Nation Address on the need for competent individuals to be appointed in the civil service. The President argued that professional civil servants were vital in ensuring effective service delivery and restoring public confidence in the government. However, says Parmi Natesan, CEO of IoDSA, there is an equal need for professionalism on the boards of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) which deliver critical services to citizens and the economy as a whole.
“President Ramaphosa repeatedly emphasised the need for well-trained, professional civil servants and ‘capable, experienced and trustworthy professionals’ in order to ensure effective service delivery,” she says. “But when it comes to board appointments at the SOEs, we have experienced that there is considerable room for improvement. We have frequently seen political appointees failing the organisation—much of what is emerging at the Zondo Commission can be traced to inappropriate board appointments.
“Proper due diligence of board appointments will go a long way towards helping get our SOEs back on track, something that’s critical to rebuilding our economy.”
Given the vital role played by non-executive directors, the IoDSA has long promoted the need for creating a deep pool of professional directors whose competencies are objectively certified and who subscribe to a code of professional ethics.
In this regard, the IoDSA introduced the Certified Director and Chartered Director destinations that provide a framework through which directors can acquire the necessary competencies, and demonstrate that they have them. The IoDSA’s Director Competency Framework allows directors and would-be directors to acquire the skills they need to add value to the boards on which they sit. Holders of these designations also have to commit to lifelong education to ensure that they keep up with developments in the field of directorship, and that their existing skills are kept current and that they acquire new ones as necessary.
“Directorship is a professional like any other, and there is an urgent need to have a way of ensuring that only individuals with the right skills (professional and personal) and ethics are appointed to boards, including SOE boards,” she says. “Professional directors can also be held to account by their professional body and disciplined for deviating from the Code of Conduct they signed up to, making accountability much easier to enforce.”
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