The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators was originally founded in England in October 1891 and was known as the Institute of Secretaries.
In 1902 it was granted its Royal Charter and became the Chartered Institute of Secretaries. The name has since been changed to The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators to more fully describe the status and capabilities of the members. In 1909 the first branch to be established outside the United Kingdom was formed in South Africa and in 1957 it became the Southern Africa Division. Zimbabwe was part of the Southern Africa Division until January 1992, when it was granted its autonomy as an independent territory with a seat on the International Council. Today, there are divisions in South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Zimbabwe.
The Institute in Zimbabwe was incorporated on 1st January 1971 by an Act of Parliament through the Chartered Secretaries (Private) Act, which generally prescribes the operations of the Institute in Zimbabwe, status of its members, relationship with Government and world at large. The local incorporation does not affect the membership status of the Zimbabwe Chartered Secretary. The examination standards and the criteria for membership are the same as those that apply elsewhere in the world. Accordingly, success in the Zimbabwe Institute's examinations is widely recognised and membership of this Institute confers simultaneous membership of the international body. The Institute is the professional home of members with a high level of competence in business administration, general management, accounting, company secretaryship, taxation and corporate governance. Membership of the Institute is widely recognised internationally and is held in high esteem in the world business community.
Members occupy senior positions in the private and public business sectors. There are two classes of membership of the Institute, ie Fellows and Associates. All qualified members of the Institute are entitled to describe themselves as Chartered Secretaries and use the designatory letters, FCIS or ACIS as appropriate. Fellowship is the senior grade of membership order. Another grade, Grad ICSA comprises those who have successfully completed the examinations but have not yet gained sufficient qualifying service for Associateship.
Today there are more than 45 000 qualified Chartered Secretaries throughout the world of whom over 1 600 are in Zimbabwe. Of the more than 30 000 registered students more than 10 000 are in Zimbabwe. Members (i.e. Fellows or Associates) of the Institute are not confined only to serving limited liability companies. The members are also working in a variety of organisations such as agricultural, marketing, industrial development, electrical, transport undertakings, government departments, incorporated associations, trade associations, universities, banks, building societies, insurance companies and all the countless organisations in the world.
In Zimbabwe Chartered Secretaries are also eligible for registration with the Public Accountants and Auditors Board as Public Accountants and once registered may use the designatory letters RPAcc(Z) after their names. Application for registration is made through the Institute.