The Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted an important, two-day International Fraud and Corruption Risk Conference at the Coastlands Musgrave Hotel on Monday, 14 November 2022 and Tuesday, 15 November 2022.
The theme of the conference was: “Reshaping the Quality of Conversations, Deepening the Sense of Accountability, in Re-tilting the Socioeconomic Landscape.”
Depictive of shared responsibility, as articulated in our ENVISION2030, the exhilarating gathering included the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu, (in abstentia), Dr Vuyo Mthethwa (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: People & Operations, DUT), Prof Keolebogile Motaung (Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Engagement, DUT), Professor Suren Singh (Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching & Learning, DUT), DUT staff, DUT students, DUT Council members and external stakeholders. Of course, shared responsibility in relation to the external stakeholders, was in the context of our country and the broader Continent.
Also in attendance were Ms Nonhlanhla Gumbi (Director: Procurement, DUT), Ms Nthanyiseni F Dhumazi (Chief Financial Officer, DUT), Professor Fulufhelo Netswera (Executive Dean: Faculty of Management Sciences, DUT), DUT Executive Dean: Faculty of Accounting and Informatics Prof Oludayo, O. Olugbara, DUT Chief Risk Officer, Mr Sikhuthali Nyangintsimbi, Dr Simpiwe Sobuwa (Deputy President: Health Professions Council of South Africa), Mr Alan Khan (Senior Director: Corporate Affairs), an array of local and international key speakers, Chairperson of KPMG South Africa, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu (Chairperson: KPMG South Africa), Mr Sisa Ntlango, Partner: Deloitte South Africa; Ms Nomathamsanqa Ashom, Managing Director: Ngubane & Co, Prof Cheryl De la Rey (Vice -Chancellor: University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Ms Nangamso Mankai (Senior Investment Manager, Mine Workers Investment Company), Dr Xoliswa Majola (Senior Lecturer: UKZN Graduate School of Business & Leadership), Mr John Foster-Pedley (Director: Henley Business School Africa), Prof Owen Skae (Director: Rhodes Business School), Dr McLean Sibanda (Founder and Director: Megethos Legacy Catalyst (Pty) Ltd (Sibanda Legacy), Ms Naomi Ngoasheng (Intellectual Property Specialist, NIPMO), Dr Kerry Jenkins (COO, KPMG Dynamic Risk Assessment Global Centre of Excellence), Ms Pat Semenya (CEO: IRMSA), Ms Zelia Njeza (President: Institute of Internal Auditors, Tanzania), Ms Harriet Akua Karikari (President: Institute of Internal Auditors, Ghana), Ms Nicola Comninos (Chief Risk Officer, Purple Group), Ms Sarie Homan (Head of Professional Body, CIPS), and Ms Liezl Groenwald, (Senior Manager: Organisational Ethics Development, TEI).
Welcoming the attendees in an online message was the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu, who stressed the importance of the occasion.
He said: “This conference focuses on risks of fraud and corruption to us, our organisations, higher education institutions and our country as a whole and perhaps the world at large. We must ask ourselves what creativity and innovation could we bring to bear to design a fraud and corruption free higher education system and environment, and South Africa as a whole.”
He took the opportunity to congratulate the team that put the conference together under the able leadership of DUT’s Chief Risk Officer, Sikhuthali Nyangintsimbi.
“As is always the case, organising an international conference is certainly no menial task. I wish this conference fruitful discussions that will generate ideas, that will inspire creativity and innovation,” he said.
Giving a brief background of the conference, Mr Nyangintsimbi stated that as per the DUT ENVISION2030, the university community intended to build mutually beneficial partnerships to help improve lives and livelihoods across society.
He said that DUT was extremely grateful to have such esteemed keynote speakers on board to share their thought leadership perspectives, and expertise, with the delegates.
One of the highlights of Day One was the address by the Chairperson of KPMG South Africa, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, who spoke on how KPMG South Africa nearly collapsed in recent years but managed to turn things around.
Liezl Groenwald, (Senior Manager: Organisational Ethics Development, TEI), gave a thought-provoking insight into navigating a whistleblowing maturity curve.
Another segment that provided ‘food for thought’ pertained to the topic of Risks Pertaining to Failure to Commercialise IP within Universities, which was facilitated by Dr Sibanda: Megethos from Legacy Catalyst.
Ms Naomi Ngoasheng, an Intellectual Property Specialist at the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), spoke of the role of NIPMO and challenges it faced pertaining to protecting intellectual property (IP).
DUT’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Engagement, Prof Motaung focused her presentation on how many IPs are filed per year, how many are commercialised, licensed and if students are aware that they can license their IP. She also focused on the ingredients of successful spin-out companies.
“You do need to consider how IP and the ideas which it protects will be applied in the market. They need to be able to form the basis of a sustainable business opportunity which can generate a return for investors. Do your market research early, the proof-of-market is as important as the proof-of-principle,” she remarked.
She also explained that investors in a company will expect the company to be led by a team with proven management skills, as well as money to develop and grow the company.
Prof Motaung gave an example of the commercialised IP developments at DUT and DUT spin-off companies, while speaking on associated risks and mitigating processes.
The session ended with a vote of thanks by Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching & Learning at DUT, Prof Singh.
The Day One activities culminated with a celebratory dinner, where the new CEO of Universities South Africa, Dr Phethiwe Matutu, a mathematician by discipline, delivered her keynote address titled: Strategic Opportunities, Coalface Realities and the Grey Territory navigation for Higher Education (HE) – a Universities South Africa Perspective.
For the past five years, she was the Group Executive: Strategy, Planning and Partnerships at the National Research Foundation (NRF), responsible for strategic planning and performance monitoring, strategic partnerships to leverage resources, and information and analysis to enable evidence-based decision making.
In that capacity, she successfully drove the formulation of the macro-organisational strategy, led the conceptualisation of the establishment of a Research and Development Information Platform for the National System of Innovation (NSI), and had oversight of the management of key strategic partnerships that are instrumental in leveraging knowledge, human, and financial resources from partners.
“On behalf of University South Africa, I’m delighted to be invited to make an address at this Fraud and Corruption Risk celebratory conference dinner. The higher education sector’s role is to ensure improved economic participation in the social development of South Africa’s youth, adults and also to produce and exploit knowledge for economic and societal benefit.
“This occurs within the context of their National Development Plan, which necessitate the higher education sector to grow by a fifth over the next eight years. This growth is expected to occur within a myriad of developments and challenges – locally and globally,” she said.
Dr Matutu mentioned a few challenges such as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the higher education sector, the weak economy, poverty and unemployment, the deepening global economic crisis and its devastating impact on the South African economy and the fiscal space of the state.
She also made mention that over the past decade and a half, South Africa had experienced significant increases in corruption, fraud, maleficence and that the higher education has not been spared of such deviant practices.
She then briefly highlighted fraud risk within the teaching and learning sector, which is the core business at universities.
Dr Matatu also made mention of the findings of the Staff Experience of and Perspectives on Teaching and Learning and its Future (SEP-TLF) survey report.
Her insightful talk further explained what happens in the university sector, including research related fraud.
Day Two focused on the Dynamic Risk Assessment – Understanding the Connectivity of Risks in a Changing World. Then a panel discussion ensued on the theme: To the End of the World: Professional & Regulatory Bodies’ Role in Mitigating Fraud and Governance Inconsistencies.
Further topical presentations followed such as looking at Engineering a Procurement Future Premised on Mutually Beneficial Partnerships – the Challenges, Critical Milestones, and Key Success Factors.
After a robust question and answer session, the day concluded with a brief reflective moment by the DUT Chief Risk Officer, Mr Sikhuthali Nyangintsimbi, and the vote of thanks by Dr Vuyo Mthethwa (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: People & Operations Durban University of Technology).
Mr Nyangintsimbi said that as the DUT Conference Coordinating Committee, captained closely by DUT’s DVC: People and Operations (Dr Mthethwa), under the Stewardship of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal (DUT’s coach, Prof Thandwa Mthembu), they would forever remain deeply appreciative of the delegates’ support in participating at this inaugural international-level conference.
“It is because of your enthusiastic support, through keenly participating in this conference, that we will be able to confidently turn to our guardians of governance (viz. the DUT Council) and say, we have successfully delivered on that which you, in the context of risk culture deepening, pointed us to do. May you all have a peaceful close to 2022, a year that may have been difficult in one way or the other, yet still punctuated by a cocktail of unique achievements that contribute towards carving our personal legacy as we all navigate, through different routes, deeper into the future,” he said.
Dr Mthethwa said that without the mind, hearts and hands of various people, the conference would not have been successful.
“Mr Nyangintsimbi, you have amassed so many people together, both internal DUT and external, going beyond our local shores, thank you. To all DUT staff for your many roles in ensuring this conference was a success, including but not limited to our Programme Directors, Mr Khan and Ms Gumbi, Logistics. Audio Visual, Co-operative Education and Communications.
She further thanked the speakers and DUT’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal in leading DUT’s trajectory of change through ENVISION2030. She summarised that over the two days, there had been insights, contributions and discussions from Audit Firms and that the hybrid modality enabled over 200 participants. Dr Mthethwa further said that all delegates at the hybrid conference should be mindful not to shelve what they had heard and learnt from the speakers who had a wealth of experience.
“There has been much sharing, the question is what can we draw from the quality conversations. This must start with our own checks of our honesty barometer. Good luck as each of you makes a deepened contribution to accountability, integrity and taking action on your talk to expel corruption for our greater mankind,” she concluded.
Pictured: CEO of Universities South Africa, Dr Phethiwe Matutu, delivering her keynote address at the gala dinner.