“You have to be mindful of operating within the law at all times as a CFO in the public sector, because it’s your career on the line,” says Rendani Sadiki, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform CFO. “Colleagues may make requests that are outside the ambit of the law, but you have to explore the prescripts before you respond. You mustn’t just say no; you must bring a solution. That person might not be intentionally trying to break the law, they might just not be acquainted with those prescripts. So I rather try to advise them of their options.”
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is mandated to create and maintain equitable land dispensation and acts as a catalyst in rural development to ensure sustainable rural livelihoods, which it does through various programs and initiatives. Rendani oversees strategic financial management within the department – a mandate she says is quite broad.
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“As the financial strategist, I have to develop and implement financial strategies to manage limited resources at our disposal so that the department is able to deliver the services efficiently and effectively, and within budget.” She also oversees the governance of the Department. “I have to ensure there is compliance. When working in government the governance and legislative frameworks are wide-ranging and every transaction that you process involves some sort of regulatory implications. You’ve got to ensure compliance with laws regulations. A key part of my role is to ensure that the compliance is not comprised.”
You’ve been in this position for almost 18 months. What you have achieved during this time? What do you still hope to achieve?
“I’ve achieved so much. When I first arrived there was no permanent CFO and there hadn’t been a permanent CFO for some time. So I had to first build the team and build trust in the team. I think we have achieved that in a very short space of time. I tend to ensure I don’t micromanage. I give you what you ought to do and tell you when I want it, and offer help should you require help. So for my direct reports and their subordinates, I’ve worked hard on cohesion, something I think makes for success in any role.”
“Human capital is the best investment in any institution. I can be as competent as they come but if I don’t have the team I won’t deliver.”
“I think we’ve successfully identified those areas which need attention in terms of our current fiscal crisis; determining how we respond to the fiscal constraints so that we can deliver knowing the financial resources are very limited. In order to respond to the mandate of the department and be within the provided appropriation I look at my projects and assess, trying to identify areas where I can cut and get the benefits that I want. I’ve implemented cost-cutting measures such as the use of VIDCON to minimize the travel, cut on catering for internal meetings, implement cell phone cost split billing strictly by introducing policies and the strict application thereof. Now, if an official overspends, the cell phone is either suspended or the employee pays the bill themselves. When you introduce new things it’s not easy, because change is not easy, so there’s a lot of resistance.”