Aziz Hardien, the Provincial Accountant-General of the Western Cape, has been committed to public service for nearly two decades. In a recent interview with CFO Club, Aziz spoke about the challenges he faces in dealing with the lack of skills and competencies within the government sector, and his unwavering commitment to serving the citizens of his province.
Education can change the trajectory of your future
Growing up in a humble suburb of Cape Town, Aziz learned early on the importance of education and pursued his dream of becoming a Chartered Accountant.
“At the young age of 14 I had lost my father and I only had my mother and three other siblings. My mother provided for us, and she said to us that the only way you can improve yourself is through studying, through getting an education and in that way improve your situation.
“Being a Chartered Accountant has been an early ambition of mine, it probably started around the age of 14 or 15 when I decided that I love numbers, I love business and I love looking at things differently.”
A calling to serve
Aziz started his career at Ernst & Young, but soon found his true calling in public service, where he could use his skills to make a positive impact on people’s lives. “I’ve never been one to chase revenue but always wanting to be in the space to help others,” Aziz shared.
As the Provincial Accountant-General, Aziz is responsible for ensuring that the financial statements of all departments, public entities, and municipalities in the Western Cape are a true and fair reflection of their assets, liabilities, expenditure, and revenue. However, one of his biggest challenges is dealing with the skills and competencies within the government sector.
Aziz often faces a lack of expertise in areas such as financial management and technology. He believes that to progress as a country, there is a need to involve more technology to deliver better services.
“…within the entire government of South Africa, we’re also dealing with technology as a major concern for us because within the government sector we do run legacy systems for transactions, but we also need an integrated financial management system. If we want to progress as a country, that is an area where we must involve more of the technology to be able to do better and deliver better services.”
Enabling growth in the Western Cape
Despite these challenges, Aziz remains committed to serving the people of the Western Cape. He sees his job as not just a gatekeeper to prevent corruption, but also as an enabler of growth and development for the province.
When asked why Aziz has perservered in the public sector for over two decades, he simply answers: “It is the desire to always serve and to assist where we can because everything that we do is about the citizen in the Western Cape.”