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September 13, 2021

When I heard the testimony of Ashwell Prince, Paul Adams, and the other brave cricketers, it resonated with me in a deep and moving way. It unearthed in me open wounds that I didn’t get a chance to close. I could so easily have substituted Ashwell’s name with mine and Cricket South Africa (CSA) with any of the two ‘Big 4’ audit firms where I was a partner.

Prince speaks about the constant reference to quotas, and I remember in conversation with my partner:

“He is only a partner because we need to meet the transformation targets” and ‘’we only need a blackface on this project- no need to do any work”.

I remember a conversation with the CEO of a Big 4 firm speaking about another senior black chartered accountant:

“I told him that he only needs to have been name on the letterhead and office door. He doesn’t have to work.”

Gladly he refused this offer and went on to have a stellar career.

Who do the leadership holding these sentiments really think we are? Its just not good cricket.

There are many Husain Manacks who did not support many Khaya Zondo’s. Worse still, we had black CEOs and senior partners who were only  picked to provide comfort to the powers that be that their system is preserved. Those strong, black people of principle eventually leave and the weak stay, leaving these corporates incapacitated; reinforcing the status quo.

If these firms allowed those who challenge the system to be part of the change, I would expect that these firms will be stronger and more relevant to a changing world.

What many black professionals need is to have a SJN at these corporates who’ve damaged their careers with the racist rationality.

I agree, these should be private hearings. However, expediting these hearings will cleanse those corporates and give closure to the many people who have experienced discrimination. As Ashwell Prince says, theyneed closure. If the corporates really want change, they need to rid them selves of the dark past still destroying black careers.

CSA needs to act quickly and decisively on the matter. I would like to challenge the corporates to have these SJN’s to help them clear a path forward.

We need to examine the few South Africans who have embraced change and succeeded. Exemplary South African and Springbok head coach Rassie Erasmus started the 2019 World Cup final with no less than 6 black players and the rest, as they say, is history.

Suresh Naidoo is a Chartered Accountant, a director at Accensis and the member of the Board of KZNCU

Accensis is  a member of Prime Global, one of the 5 largest associations of independent accounting firms in the world, comprised of approximately 300 highly successful independent public accounting firms in over 80 countries.