The dti has issued regulations stating that certificates produced after 1st August 2009 will only valid if produced by an accredited verification agency or one that has a pre-assessment letter from SANAS.

SANAS (SA National Accreditation System) has been mandated by the dti to accredit verification agencies. In February they accredited a small number of agencies and since then have accredited more – 19 in total. Their accreditation methodology is to ensure that agencies have met certain criteria, including showing competency in BEE knowledge. The 19 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. They do not have accreditation rights to render services on other codes, e.g. code 800 – which is the QSE code of practice. Any agency therefore that produces a certificate for a QSE is not accredited for this particular task. Therefore all certificates produced after 1st August based on code 800 will be invalid.

Neither do accredited agencies have rights to render accreditation services for the recently gazetted sector codes – construction, tourism and forestry.

This is more problematical because methodology around code 800 is at least covered by the guidelines issued by the dti in July 2008, so in theory SANAS could quite quickly issue pre-assessment letters to accredited agencies and then accredit the agencies. In all likelihood this was an error by SANAS, but they have to remedy it before 1st August. We cannot have a situation where SANAS, the controlling body bends its own rules.

The sector codes are not even covered by the guidelines, because they have only recently been gazetted. As a result it will be impossible for the dti and the relevant sector charter steering committees to properly issue guidelines for those charters. 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.

“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” explained Keith Levenstein, CEO of EconoBEE a BEE consulting firm. “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. These agencies will be breaching their terms of reference with SANAS if they issue a certificate based on code 800 or any of the charters.”