Yes, I know it is grammatically incorrect, but the issue is important. Many BEE certificates are produced every day. While most have no problem, there are some, about 5%, that are incorrect.
In the past week we have come across 5 certificates, issued by accredited verification agencies or approved auditors that required us to call the agency to query the certificate. For example, some certificates for guesthouses state that they are EMEs in line with the codes of good practice with a turnover of less than R5 million. Since a guesthouse is in the tourism sector, it can only be an EME if their turnover is less than R2.5 million. In one case, upon checking the auditors then apologized and sent us an updated certificate within 5 minutes.
This satisfied ourselves so that when our client, (who is a customer of the guesthouse) who is about to be verified will be able to supply a correct and valid certificate to their verification agency. We know that if an incorrect certificate is supplied as part of your procurement calculation you will have points deducted. The problem we have is the auditor sent only us the updated certificate. We don’t know if the auditor even sent his own client, the guesthouse, an updated certificate, or if the guesthouse sent the updated certificate to their other clients who rely on the certificate. Some company may well get a big surprise if they use the wrong certificate during verification and lose points.
In another instance the auditor made a mistake and verified a game lodge as an EME when it should have been a QSE. They sent us a letter stating that they had told the lodge that the certificate was invalid and must be withdrawn. Is this enough?
- What confidence do we have that the lodge is going to withdraw the certificate, and that they will inform every client who relies on the certificate that it is incorrect?
- Does the lodge even know who they have sent this certificate to in the past four months since it was issued?
- What if the certificate was on the lodge’s website and had been downloaded an unknown number of times
- How do we know that the companies who received that notification are indeed going to disregard it during their verification? They are going to lose points by disregarding the certificate
- If you, their customer, received the original certificate and now receive a letter telling you to disregard the original certificate, do you have the systems to reject the old one?
- The letter informing me of the withdrawal was not sent to the dti, SANAS, or IRBA or to every agency, auditor informing them of the withdrawal. Even if it had been sent to every agency, do they have the facilities to reject invalid certificates?
The dti is busy with a project to put all certificates into a database. They have about 20 000 certificates (compared to our 40 000), but those certificates are being scanned and processed by OCR. They therefore don’t have the facilities to check certificates, or reject them (like we do). Unless agencies and auditors send updated certificates to the dti, the database will not be able to take this into account, and the project will fail.
The question remains: Once a certificate has been sent, how do we withdraw it, remove it and ensure that it is never used again. In short how do we unsend a certificate?
This piece was written by BBBEE consulting firm EconoBEE