The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has started the consultation process to engage critical stakeholders on the mandate of a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission, which would “open its doors soon”.
At a media breakfast in Sandton, BBBEE Commission acting commissioner Zodwa Ntuli said Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies was in the process of finalising the establishment of the commission, which was outlined in the BBBEE Act of 2003.
The commission’s main function would be to oversee, supervise and promote adherence with the Act. It would also look to strengthen collaboration between the public and private sectors, receive complaints and launch proactive and reactive investigations in any BBBEE matter.
“We are in the process of finalising the strategy as the commission. We do not see this commission as a police officer, but more as a partner that is going to ensure the implementation of BEE legislation that meets the objectives of this Act.
“We want the commission to be extremely accessible. Business does not sleep, so we won’t sleep. We want to avail ourselves at any given time that we are needed,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, Ntuli reiterated the looming deadline for sector charter councils to submit their aligned sector codes to the DTI.
The department had, so far, received submissions from five sector charter councils, including the tourism, marketing and communication, agriculture, forestry and property sectors prior to the October 31 deadline; however, the construction, transport, financial services, chartered accountants and information and communication technology sectors were yet to submit their aligned sector codes.
The DTI earlier this month warned that existing codes submitted for approval after November 15 would be repealed, which meant that entities operating in the affected sectors would have to use the amended BBBEE Codes of Good Practice for measurement.
Ntuli explained that a number of sector councils had advanced to meet the extended deadline and that the Minister was in talks with some of the councils.
She added that if the outstanding sector council codes were not submitted, companies would face administrative implications, as well as technical compliance issues.
Also speaking at the breakfast, DTI BBBEE policy unit acting chief director Liso Steto said that, in normal circumstances, 12 months would have been sufficient for these sector councils to align their codes, but that the DTI had opted for a two-year alignment.
“A lot has been achieved in the sector-specific charters, such as in the financial services sector. A number of their elements are not in the generic codes, such as access to finance, which found itself in the sector codes,” he explained.
As no powers had been provided in the original BEE Act of 2003 to deal with noncompliance, and having been amended in 2013, the commission would play a significant role in enforcing this.
“We will have powers to investigate, to make findings and recommendations,” Ntuli said.