We have many clients who procure from SANAS (SA National Accreditation System). In many cases, this is an exclusion to a company’s eligible procurement, but it can be that it does count towards the procurement score, so we regularly call SANAS to ask them for their own BEE certificate. The BEE codes have specifically been designed to allow public enterprises and govt agencies to obtain their own BEE certificate. The Specialised Enterprises scorecard has been in existence since 2007 for this purpose. It has even been aligned in line with the Amended Codes. Many govt agencies, NPOs, state-owned enterprises have successfully been rated. The list includes ESKOM, SAA, TELKOM, SABC, SABS, SA Weather Service and even IRBA.
We have been calling SANAS in vain for their BEE certificate since 2012, and have received a wide range of excuses as to why they do not comply. The latest excuse was received today when SANAS told us that they cannot have a BEE certificate because they are an accreditation body.
This is quite disgraceful and leads to unpleasant speculation:
It is wholly untrue that they CANNOT have a BEE certificate. The entities mentioned above were indeed able to obtain a valid certificate.
We need to explain who/what SANAS is: They are one of the two regulators of the BEE industry, appointed initially in 2010 and subsequently in 2011 in conjunction with IRBA to regulate/accredit BEE verification agencies/auditors. They do other work like accreditation of veterinary laboratories. The other regulator is IRBA, also a public enterprise that also does other work like regulate the auditing profession. IRBA has always been able to obtain a valid BEE certificate. There is nothing in the codes that prohibits an accreditation body from obtaining a BEE certificate.
If SANAS feels that there is a conflict of interest in appointing one of the SANAS accredited agencies to verify them, they could use an independent IRBA auditor.
It is, of course, voluntary for any entity to obtain a verification certificate, but everyone is encouraged to do so. SANAS is an agency of the dti, the very same government department responsible for implementing BEE. Their offices are in the same campus as the BEE unit – their building is less than 100m away. The SANAS board of directors is appointed by the dti minister. Why does the minister not want to set the example for everyone else to follow? It should be noted that section 10 of the B-BBEE act as Amended states:
Status of codes of good practice
- (1) Every organ of state and public entity must [take into account and, as far as is reasonably possible,] apply any relevant code of good practice issued in terms of this Act in—
- determining qualification criteria for the issuing of licences, concessions or other authorisations in respect of economic activity in terms of any law;
- developing and implementing a preferential procurement policy;
- determining qualification criteria for the sale of state-owned enterprises;
- developing criteria for entering into partnerships with the private sector; and
- determining criteria for the awarding of incentives, grants and investment schemes in support of broad-based black economic empowerment.
- (a) The Minister may, after consultation with the relevant organ of state or public entity, except the organ of state or public entity from a requirement contained in subsection (1) or allow a deviation therefrom if particular objectively verifiable facts or circumstances applicable to the organ of state or public entity necessitate an exemption or deviation.
- The Minister must publish the notice of exemption or deviation in the Gazette.
- Subject to section 9(6), an enterprise in a sector in respect of which the Minister has issued a sector code of good practice in terms of section 9, may only be measured for compliance with the requirements of broad-based black economic empowerment in accordance with that code.
- Enterprises operating in a sector in respect of which the Minister has issued a sector code of good practice in terms of section 9, must report annually on their compliance with broad-based black economic empowerment to the sector council which may have been established for that sector.
The dti minister presumably does not feel it necessary to take into account the BEE status of SANAS.
It is unacceptable that SANAS can state that they cannot get a certificate. If they don’t know better, they do not deserve to be in existence. Yet they are one of the regulators of the BEE industry. They tell accredited verification agencies how to do their job. Can we assume that SANAS does not even know enough to be able to obtain its own BEE Certificate? What role then do they have to play in accrediting verification agencies?
If this is an excuse it is even more unacceptable. Companies are making huge efforts to try to comply, yet SANAS does not bother to even show its own commitment.
Without a valid BEE certificate, it is impossible to know if SANAS is transformed, or how much it cares about transformation.
It is becoming more and more difficult to convince companies to support the BEE process when the government ignores its own policies.