According to Keith Levenstein, CEO of EconoBEE, one of South Africa’s leading BEE Consultancies this may very well be the case. There is a flaw in the verification procedure coming into place on 01 August that companies and the media seem unaware of and it is potentially a significant problem on the road to businesses official BEE status levels.

Says Levenstein: “The dti recently issued regulations stating that certificates produced after 01 August 2009 will only be valid if produced by an accredited verification agency or one that has a pre-assessment letter from SANAS (the South African National Accreditation System). But herein lies a problem – many of whom may just have an invalid BEE verification come 01 August. Why?.

SANAS has been mandated by the dti to accredit verification agencies and in February this year they accredited a small number of agencies and since then have accredited more – 22 in total. Their accreditation methodology is to ensure that agencies have met certain criteria, including showing competency in BEE knowledge. The 22 agencies that have been accredited have all received certificates stating that they have been accredited to render verification services for the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice, specifically Codes 100,200 300, 400,500,600 and 700. This refers to the generic scorecard, and the agencies are accredited to verify based on those codes. SANAS very recently corrected the QSE verification problem by including code series 801-807. However they do not have accreditation rights to render services on a number of other codes such as the recently gazetted charters (Construction, Tourism and Forestry). Therefore a company that gets a certificate from an agency that produces a certificate for any of the gazetted charters but is not accredited for this particular task will result in that certificate being invalid (post 01 August 2009).

SANAS will have to remedy it before 1st August. We cannot have a situation where SANAS, the controlling body bends its own rules. Thereafter SANAS must assess the competency of the agency before accrediting them to issue sector charter certificates. This implies that those scorecards cannot be used for procurement purposes until the process is complete.

At least methodology around code 800 is covered by the guidelines issued by the dti in July 2008. SANAS was able to amend their accreditation certificates to include QSEs quite quickly. Unfortunately no methodologies have yet been released for any charters which will result in a lengthier process to issues pre-assessment letters to agencies and then accredit the agencies.

We are raising this as a matter of law in the interests of ensuring that verification is done properly and the law is applied correctly explains Levenstein. This is quite simply a mess. If verification is to be done properly then SANAS and the dti should lead the way in doing their job properly. SANAS, the dti and the verification industry have been very vocal in ensuring that every scorecard needs verification and verification must only be done by SANAS accredited agencies or those with “pre-assessment letters” from SANAS but these agencies will be breaching their terms of reference with SANAS if they issue a certificate based on any of the charters. Certainly a matter to be raised in the public business arena and solved before 01 August!” concludes Levenstein.

For more information or comments call Keith Levenstein directly on 011 483 1190 or www.econobee.co.za

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