OPINION

Failure to act on SABS is threatening jobs and growth – Dean Macpherson

DA MP says Minister Rob Davies is doing a disservice to hundreds of manufacturers

Minister Davies’ failure to act on SABS is threatening jobs and growth

26 June 2018

Today, in an oversight visit I conducted at the South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) together with my colleague, Ghaleb Cachalia MP, where we met management and were taken through the organisation’s operational facilities, we uncovered details of an organisation at war with itself, a toxic relationship between the CEO and employees, obsolete standardisation equipment and lack of direction from the board.

Minister Rob Davies is doing a disservice to hundreds of manufacturers who have lost R4 billion in potential revenue due to SABS’s dysfunctional standardisation process, and associated jobs that could have been created, by continuing to entertain submissions by the SABS board on why they should not be dismissed.

The truth is, the SABS board and management have failed the manufacturing industry’s job creation focus and must be dismissed immediately. They are responsible for failing to implement a turnaround strategy for the past 10 years because of poor planning, leading to the mass exodus of clients in the past two years.

The toxic relationship that exists between employees and management, under CEO Boni Mehlomakulu, has seen 108 staff members take the organisation to the CCMA. This has had a negative knock on effect on productivity and cannot be allowed to continue.

Declining commercial sales and poor client retention have all been a consequence of the crisis of confidence that has been created around the SABS brand by the board and management. The longer Minister Davies takes to fire the current administrators and place SABS under administration, the longer it will take to undo the job losses in the manufacturing sector.

South Africa cannot aspire to create jobs when it has a standards body is incapable of certifying business innovations to enable market access.

A potential trade war between America and China is already having a negative effect on jobs within local export reliant industries, and as such, we cannot keep scoring own goals by forfeiting R4 billion in potential export revenue due to chaos in SABS.

SABS is a critical growth multiplier for both jobs and the economy, if it malfunctions the whole economy suffers. It is only through good economic management that the Western Cape has been able to buck the trend of slow jobs growth, accounting for 75% of the 165,000 net jobs added to the South African economy between the first quarters of 2017 and 2018.

Minister Rob Davies must take direct responsibility for the jobs that continue to be lost in the manufacturing sector due to his inaction in restoring institutional integrity at SABS. If this issue is not dealt with, the 9,5 million South Africans without jobs will continue to be locked out from access to economic opportunity.

Issued by Dean MacphersonDA Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, 26 June 2018