Critique of ABVA

ABVA – the Association of BEE verification Agencies has issued a statement outlining its role and trying to set up best practices.

This is quite admirable. However the statement goes on to say:

“During the workshop members agreed that from best practice point of view, it is important that credible verification evidence be obtained when verifying the BBBEE status of a company”.

Evidence of a supplier’s BBBEE status must be provided by an independent, competent party that subscribes to a set of professional standards.”

but then they said:

“ABVA members agreed that only BBBEE Verification Certificates issued by agencies that have applied for accreditation provide the standard and level of assurance required as these agencies have declared that they have implemented the SANAS R47 standards.”

Is ABVA serious? Are they really saying that the only organisations capable of providing professional services are their own members. They conveniently ignore the many auditing/accounting/legla/consulting firms  that are professional and can do a better job than many ABVA members themselves. (We are not positioning ourselves as a verification agency, so this is not sour grapes on EconoBEE’s side.)

Now ABVA have set certain requirements for allowing membership.

One of the criteria is: 

Comply with the criteria for accreditation set out in Code 000,Statement 020 of the Codes of Good Practice and SANAS accreditation requirements;

This is really funny. There is NO Code 000, Statement 020 in the Codes of Good Practice. ABVA are stating that in order to become a full member you must follow a statement in the codes that DOES NOT EXIST. How professional is this? Would you be happy paying good money to get your scorecard accredited by a member of an association that itself does not even know the codes?

How did this mistake happen: One of the draft of the codes, issued in December 2005, did indeed have a Code 000, statement 020, but the final gazetted codes excluded them. Statement 020 described how to obtain accreditation. At the same time SANAS, in October 2006 issued the document R-47 (co-incidentally it was written by Theo Lombard, the current chairman of ABVA).

When the new codes were gazetted Statement 020 was excluded. We waited eagerly to see when SANAS would change this document. One of the requirements of Statement 020 was that a verification agency receive accreditation within 180 of applying to SANAS. Obviously this was not going to happen, and did not happen. SANAS had to change R-47 before September 2007, which they did on 23 August 2007. They left it a bit late, and choose not to publicise the change. However I would have expected SANAS to inform ABVA, or at least ABVA to have worked out that the R-47 needed changing, and as a result so too would the criteria of SANAS.

This did not happen. ABVA have recently upgraded their web site, so we could assume that should have re-looked at their own documentation. This has not happened. We ask ourselves: Are ABVA even aware of this, and how professional does this make them look?

Is it fair to say that the only organisation capable of providing professional services is an ABVA member?
Not likely. 

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