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FOREWORD Accreditation

FOREWORD Accreditation and standards: the voice of reason As a responsible umbrella body representing the largest footprint of business in South Africa, SACCI is determined to protect the image of the country's export industries. Which leads to the current issue of accreditation and standards, which are measures used to identify a higher level of conduct/ conformance of a product or service. Accreditation is defined as “the action or process of officially recognising someone as having a particular status or being qualified to perform a particular activity”. Typically, a standard revolves around a measure of quality, which involves requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials/products/ processes/services are fit for purpose. Alan Mukoki, SACCI CEO There seems to be an inherent psychology that says South Africans have a right to be rebellious and to challenge authority by nature. And there may be a history to this that dates back to pre- 1994 when the majority of people did not support a government that excluded them. Be that as it may, we saw the country move over to a full democracy with South Africa adopting, arguably, one of the most advanced constitutions in the world. Post-1994, the culture of non-compliance seemed to become part of our DNA. Ultimately, this creates problems for South Africa both in terms of societal values and the way the country is governed. We see this in the language in our press where the word “lawlessness” is often referred to in articles defining the conduct of members of our society. This naturally has a spillover effect as it also becomes a measure of how the outside world perceives South Africa. Such perceptions do have an influence in the outlook of barometers such as the ratings the country gets from ratings agencies. Certificates of Origin Circa 2010 the government became concerned about the negative impact that fraudulent Certificates of Origin was having on the image of our export industries. These certificates were issued in the town and city chambers which seemed to think they were a law unto themselves. A meeting was called with the major chamber federations, ostensibly with the intention of moving the right to issue non-preferential certificates away from the private sector to a more “controlled” environment, namely within a government agency. SACCI was the only voice at the time requesting a review of the position in light of the fact that many of the larger metro chambers relied on the issuance for up to 60% of their revenue streams. Government reluctantly agreed to this, subject to certain checks and balances being put in place. This was followed by the signing of an agreement that captured the spirit but not the mechanics of how this would be implemented. The result was that the undisciplined behaviour continued. Recognising that this ultimately impacted on the image and trust in the umbrella body known as SACCI, a decision was made to rein this in and get a more respectable set of norms in place that would introduce a minimum set of norms to which issuing chambers would need to conform. This process took the better part of 18 months and every effort was made to craft the South African documents in terms of the best practices adopted around the world. The principle followed 4 | www.opportunityonline.co.za

_________________ Ensure uniform and standardised process in granting authorisation to issuing authorities to issue non-preferential certificates of origin ________________ was that if South African issuers conformed, the system backing their certificates would then be measured alongside the best in the world. The Memorandum of Understanding between government and SACCI was signed on 23 March 2020, giving effect to “the purpose of this Agreement is to ensure uniform and standardised process in granting authorisation to issuing authorities to issue nonpreferential certificates of origin". The process included an accreditation system that was underpinned by an auditing function (or vetting process) which ensured that the minimum requirements were met, conducted annually to ensure the standards required by government were observed. The government’s wording talks to a system that ensures that credible and authentic certificates are relied upon by the international community. Reference is further made to adherence to professional standards at all times. The requirements set related to a group of requirements that would need to be adhered to, including record keeping, security and training to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) requirements. In addition, government required the submission of statistics on a quarterly basis. The other part of the agreement (important enough to warrant two pages dedicated to this issue by the legal department) relates to confidentiality. When the agreement was presented to chambers, some of them reacted very strongly against it. Rather than follow the suggested procedures, some of the certifying chambers wanted to continue to go it alone. Can we afford to continue with this mentality which creates for South Africa an image to the world of an undisciplined society? As a responsible umbrella body representing the largest footprint of business in South Africa, SACCI cannot afford to allow ill-discipline to destroy the image of our export industries. The intention is that the list of compliant issuers will be published for legitimate certificates to be issued to the business community. It will remain the client’s choice, but it must be realised that the use of non-compliant issuers attracts risks. The foreign authorities who are suspicious of a non-verifiable certificate will treat this with Credit: Magalies Water Credit: One Eighty Degrees suspicion. The end result could be the impounding of a container and the destruction of the goods in it. Will insurance pay out? Unlikely if the Certificate of Origin is deemed to not be authentic. We have a saying, buyer beware. To anyone choosing to fly below the radar of compliance, they should apply this saying wisely. www.opportunityonline.co.za | 5

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