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OPEN LETTER TO SACAP’S STAKEHOLDERS

OPEN LETTER TO SACAP’S STAKEHOLDERS

 

14 March 2017

 

Re: SACAP'S detailed response to each of the criticisms & concerns raised in the 'Architects4Change Petition'

 

As of Saturday 11 March 2017, the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) became officially aware of an online petition initiated by an organisation known as Architects for Change (A4C).  This was due to a producer of SABC2's Morning Live programme affording A4C an interview and SACAP’s subsequent request of that Producer for the right to join this interview in the interests of fair and balanced media reporting. That Morning Live interview can be seen here: Morning Live (Part 1/2) and Morning live (Part 2/2)

 

A few weeks ago, the editor of Cape Messenger published an article with a number of false and unsubstantiated allegations. SACAP’s response to that article was published here http://www.capemessenger.co.za/2017/03/07/sacap-right-response/. Since then a number of SACAP’s Voluntary Organisations (VAs) have issued statements. They are available for view on SACAP’s website: http://www.sacapsa.com/

 

SACAP wishes to inform all its stakeholders, including but not limited to, Registered Professionals, VAs, Architectural Students, Architectural Learning Sites (ALS) and their representatives within the profession, and the public at large of the following:

  • SACAP has prepared this detailed response to the misleading, unfounded and grossly misrepresented allegations noted in the A4C petition;
  • SACAP is committed to its value of transparency and integrity and welcomes any prima facie evidence with regards to any of the issues raised in the petition;
  • By virtue of the fact that the petition is within the public domain and that no representations were made directly with the regulatory body, SACAP also responds in the public domain;
  • The Code of Conduct accepted by all SACAP registered persons, calls for refraining on conduct that would bring the architectural profession into disrepute. SACAP encourages all our members to check their facts and be wary of participating in a political smear campaign.

    The table below details each accusation and demand, and SACAP’s response to it.

 

Preamble to the A4C petition, calling for SACAP’s dissolution

SACAP's Response

 

The profession has been lamenting the desperate state of affairs for many years now, and in many instances we have repeatedly warned both government and professional bodies about the impending demise of the profession that we now see today. Good governance has been completely eroded by careless appointment of administrators and Council members without the requisite qualifications, and compounded by vested interests. Architecture must be run by ARCHITECTS, and not bureaucrats who do not even have an appreciation of the prestige attached to this profession, and sacrifice it takes to both become and remain a professional architect.

SACAP's mandate as prescribed in the Architectural Act, 2000 (Act No.44 of 2000) (the Act) encompasses regulating four registration categories of architectural professionals; of which Architects constitute one category. The Act gives each category equal value.

The 4th Term Council's mission is to transform, promote and regulate the architectural profession through collaborative engagement in the pursuit of excellence.

SACAP's Council and EXCO is fully aware and recognises the immense personal sacrifices made by those choosing to study and enter the prestigious profession as Council members come from within this profession.

SACAP also recognise the immense impact that Architects creative and intellectual contributions offer South Africa's built environment. SACAP’s vision for transforming the Built Environment relies on these contributions. SACAP honours the Architect's role at the apex of the profession and that your mentorship, like the mentorship of Senior Architectural Technologists, Architectural Technologists as well as that of Architectural Draughtspersons, is necessary if SACAP is to achieve a transformed profession, by race, gender and age.

The 4th Term Council came into being in 2014 and holds its term of office until 2018. Its challenges are great, and so is its commitment to its far reaching vision which is in alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP).

Please continue to engage with SACAP in robust debate. SACAP’s doors continue to be open for constructive and collaborative discussions.

 

A4C’s accusations and allegations

Fact: SACAP's response

1.1.

“Appointment of board members who have no relevant *qualifications* and some instances, experience.”

SACAP Council members are appointed in terms of the Act.

In terms of Section 3 of the Act, Council consists of 7 registered persons.

Four (4) of these Council members are actively practising in the profession and represents categories of registered persons as contemplated in section 18 of the Act. In addition, two (2) professionals in the service of the State and nominated by the State as well as 2 members of the public, nominated through public participation.

All Council members, appointed by the Minister, meet all these requirements as set out in Section 3 of the Act.

1.2.

“Appointment of a board member without following *due process* as prescribed by the Act.”

This claim is baseless.

All SACAP’s Council members are appointed by the Minister after following due nomination process as set out in section 4 of the Act.

Council challenges those who claim this to provide prima facie evidence to support their claim.

1.3.

“Appointment of a registrar without experience nor qualifications within the built environment.”

This claim is baseless.

There is no requirement in the Act that the Registrar should be qualified in the built environment.

The Registrar holds the positions of being both CEO and Registrar of SACAP. The CEO is the custodian of the full executive management role. The Registrar is the custodian of the organisation’s mandate to serve the profession.

SACAP’s Registrar/CEO has extensive qualifications which exceeded the requirement of the position, with a specialisation in South Africa’s regulatory framework and comprehensive financial management skills. The Registrar/CEO has a number of years’ experience at senior management and executive level and also leverages specialised knowledge of the education sector, including matters relating to the National Qualifications Framework, the Council for Higher Education, SAQA and Skills Development.

The Registrar is highly skilled and competent to undertake the role of SACAP’s Registrar/CEO.

1.4.

“Appointment of a board that is *unrepresentative of demographics* as required by the Act.”

SACAP’s Council was appointed by the Minister.

As per the Act, the appointment of SACAP’s Council follows a nomination process and shortlisting by a nomination panel. The final decision is made by the Minister.

SACAP’s Council is representative of demographics, as required by the Act.

1.5.

“Repeated failure to obtain approval for *IDoW* from the Competitions Commission and failure to put in place an interim measure, thereby endangering the public.”

The Identification of Work Policy, compiled and submitted by the previous Council, the 3rd Term Council, was rejected by the Competition Commission.

The Competition Commission is of the opinion that the Policy infringes competition laws. The framework document is deemed to be founded on architectural work reservation, which in the opinion of the Competitions Commission is anti-competitive and restrictive.

Architectural professionals are not alone in the impact this has on their work life. All six Built Environment Professional Councils, harmonised by the Council for the Built Environment, face this same challenge.

SACAP had withdrawn the IDoW and is pursuing an alternative method to ensure the protection of all the categories under the Act which can only work with the RPL system in place.

Every registered person who undertakes work for a client must do so in compliance with rule 2.1 of the Code of Professional Conduct. A Registered Person may only perform such work as they are professionally qualified and competent to undertake.

SACAP is in the process of lobbying the Minister himself to intervene on its behalf and speed things up.

 

Whilst SACAP has been developing an alternate policy to put forward to its stakeholders, one that aligns skills and competencies, it is not at liberty to place an interim measure.

The IDoW needs to align skills and competencies and that it will make sense after the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme fully launches. The formal launch of RPL is imminent.

Council have been actively engaging CBE and its VAs on the challenges faced.

1.6.

“Failure to obtain approval for *Professional Fees* from the Competition Commission.”

The Council for the Built Environment is mandated to undertake this function on behalf of the six built environment professional councils.

Professional fees guidelines are subject to the approval of the Competition Commission.

The Commission has rejected the exemption application for the publication of this guideline.

Their reasoning is that the guideline stifles competition and can be construed as price fixing.

Judging SACAP as failing to obtain approval is baseless and ignorant of the Act.

An approval from the Commission is a prerequisite. It was duly sought, but it was declined.

Council is now researching alternative ways to determine guidelines on fees payable to all registered professionals that ensure both the sustainability and high standards of the professional practice.

An alternate fees model will be presented at a Fees Lekgotla by midyear, where Council will invite all stakeholders for public comment.

1.7.

“Failure to engage government and *formulation of policies* affecting the profession especially in as far as transformation and the procurement system are concerned eg. PPPFA”

SACAP has been engaging the Council for the Built Environment in relation to issues of transformation of the profession.

Council’s objectives in their strategic plan is aligned with the National Implementation Plan.

SACAP reports to the Council for the Built Environment in terms of its projects in Transformation.

SACAP has participated in various projects driven by the DPW on the procurement processes of the public sector. There are state representatives on CBE who report back to the DPW on matters relating to the procurement system.

SACAP follows the protocols of engagement through CBE to DPW in policy formation matters.

1.8.

“Dissolution of the *Transformation Committee*”

Transformation and promotion of the profession are the overarching strategic objectives of the 4th Term Council and its various Committees which carry out the Acts’ mandates.

The 3rd Term Council had a transformation committee; that by implication, was responsible for abolishing the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme which aimed to address the informal learning and incomplete qualifications of historical disadvantaged practitioners.

The RPL programme is the 4th Term Council’s key transformation strategy which will significantly change the complexion of the architectural profession landscape. Other transformational programmes include Women in Architecture South Africa (WiASA) and the National Architectural Student Forum (NASF) which will actively address the #Feesmustfall and #decolonisationofeducation calls.

1.9.

“Dissolution of the *WiASA* Task Team which was also responsible for advancement of women's interests.”

Whilst the transformation agenda of SACAP’s 4th Terms Council is driven by each and every committee, the WiASA Task Team was dissolved due to non-delivery on the objectives and now resides in the Stakeholder Relations Committee and the Stakeholder Relations Unit, which would drive its programme implementation on a national basis.

SACAP resolved to rather redesign its own new programme, in consultation with its various recognised Voluntary Associations and the Department of Women in the Presidency.

The National Architectural Student Forum (NASF) where students of all Architectural Learning Sites are represented, will also drive the recognition and awareness campaign of WIASA between the students.

SACAP is still advancing women architectural interests through WiASA, which is inclusive of all categories of registration.

1.10.

“*Lack of investment* into initiatives meant for the benefit of the profession.”

It is not clear what was meant by this allegation.

The primary mandate of Council is to regulate the profession and protect the public from any professional who contravenes the Code of Conduct.

The 4th Terms Council, established in 2014, also resolved to promote the profession and transform it.

Some recent examples of how SACAP has gone about that are:

Developing the Recognition of Prior Learning programme in order to make the 3rd Term Council’s IDoW Policy truly possible.

Inviting all our Voluntary Associations to participate in the ThinkTank SACAP convened around Architectural Learning Sites’ challenges experienced with the widespread #Feesmustfall and #decoloniseeducation campaigns.

Taking the architectural profession to the schools by informing the learners why architecture should be their choice of profession.

Representing professionals’ qualification to international bodies who validate the portability of professional skills.

Contributing a percentage of our annual income to a bursary fund that advantages previously disadvantaged individuals, administered by our validated Architectural Learning Sites.

Driving a public relations programme that promotes the value of all professionals, across the registration categories (not just architects as it was previously), through the media, to the public. The public in this case includes property developers, home owners and other Built Environment professionals.

International validation of architectural qualifications.

1.11

“Abnormal *inflation of salaries* and honoraria for senior staff and board members respectively”

No evidence of this has been provided.
However SACAP would like to outline the process it has taken:

With regard to Honoraria for senior board members:
SACAP turned to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) for its recommendation on what Honoraria be paid to all Council members who chair committees that
drive the mandates of the Act. Honorariums are not paid on a set monthly rate, but rather according to the delivery of specific and variable works performed each month.

With regards to “inflation of salaries” for senior staff:
Prior to 2014, SACAP did not have a structured and approved salary scale for the SACAP employees. This meant that it had no way to successfully implement a Performance Management system of all employees at SACAP.

o SACAP appointed an HR Consultant after a lengthy tender process, to do a skills audit and competency assessment on all SACAP employees and outline job descriptions for such a structure. Each of the positions identified on the structure was then graded and a market related benchmarked salary scale for the different positions on the structure was compiled.

o All of these reports were submitted during the entire process to the HR Remuneration Committee, Finance Committee, EXCO, of Council and to Council for approval as, for instance the grading and benchmarking could only be done after the new structure was approved.

o After the benchmarking was finalised, the salary scale for SACAP was compiled according to the market, but also in line with the smaller workforce of SACAP and approved through the same process as the other mentioned above.

o All employees were placed on the new salary scale in line with the report from the HR Consultants and according to their performance and experience and for retention of staff. ALL employees were therefore placed on the scale accordingly, and their salaries were accordingly adjusted, not just the salary of the Registrar.

o The specific salary (Total Cost to The Company) of the Registrar (like all other salaries (TCTC) of all employees) is compiled of a basic salary, travel allowance and any reimbursed payments made to the Registrar.

o Since the new benchmarked TCTC was paid the Provident fund of 15% of the TCTC as well as the medical allowance was also included in the TCTC.

 

1.12

“Failure by board to investigate allegations *maladministration and corruption* by the registrar.”

SACAP has received unqualified audits since taking office.

SACAP stand by everything published in its annual reports.

A recent Cape Messenger article published false and unsubstantiated allegations about contents of SACAP’s 2015/6 Annual report. SACAP corrected these in our ‘Right of Response’. Please see as pointed to in the introduction of this document.

If there is any prima facie evidence to support a claim, SACAP would welcome its submission.

1.13

“Failure to *engage Voluntary Associations* prior to publication of policies, especially those that were repudiated by the CC.”

The Act is very specific on what matters Council should consult upon with its VAs. For example Council was required to consult with VAs on the Identification of Work Policy, drawing up a Code of Conduct, formulating the Professional Fees Guidelines. Council consulted with its VAs on each.

There is no obligation on Council to consult with its VAs in relation to each and every policy. However, SACAP does endeavour to engage wherever feasible.

1.14

“Failure to *transform* the profession as in line with the Construction Sector charters.”

The Construction Sector Charter falls under the NDP.

When the 4th Term Council created its strategy in 2014, SACAP resolved to align its Transformation objectives to the National Development Plan (NDP) as a whole, not specifically to the Construction Sector Charter.

1.15

“Failure to *grow* the profession in line with service delivery needs of our country. As of 2008 the total number of professionally registered architects stood at 9396 and 8 years later dropped to (as of May 2016) had dropped to 8482, representing a drop of 914.”

Despite the growth in the country’s infrastructure needs, there is a contraction in the country’s GDP and the building and construction industry. This very prominent macro-economic consideration impacts the work available for all architectural professionals, not just architects.

Furthermore the 4th Term Council had been attending to the mandates of the Act and where RPs did not pay their annual fees as per the Act, their registration had been cancelled accordingly. Constant communication were effected with all RPs and Candidates via YM, SMS and emails sent to remind them to pay before the actual date of cancellation of their registration (an amnesty period was also effected).

Please note: Registered Persons tend to NOT always use the specific reference number as on the YM Invoice indicated and as a result, when payments are made SACAP cannot trace who made the payment. When such RPs send SACAP proof of payment their payment can then be allocated against their name and Invoice raised and their names are reinstated without any further fee payable.

The total number of active registered persons is currently: 11 252

To attribute the decline in the number of registered persons to Council’s performance is misleading. There are a number of considerations for the decline.

1.16

“Failure of SACAP to deal with *public complaints* in a fair and objective manner which results in registered professionals being prejudiced.”

The 4th Term Council inherited 483 complaints that had not been dealt with. SACAP established a full Legal and Compliance Unit to deal with this backlog. The backlog was efficiently dealt with and cleared. In 2015/16 there were 108 new matters received of which 68 were cleared. A full disciplinary process was followed in each of these matters. In addition and part of the 108 complaints received, SACAP received 16 complaints against unregistered persons and these were submitted to the SA Police as SACAP does not have authority to charge unregistered persons. In a landmark case SACAP have received a conviction of an unregistered person undertaking architectural work. SACAP is the first Built Environment Professional Council to have achieved this.

SACAP is currently in the process of registering a specialised category for Building Control Officers, in order to regulate their conduct.

1.17

“Failure of SACAP to confront and deal with lawlessness by municipalities who allow unregistered people to submit building plans for approval which is a contravention of national building regulations.”

SACAP has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the South African Police Services to prosecute anyone preparing plans without being registered.

At present, hundreds of complaints have been lodged by SACAP with Police Stations countrywide.

Council has also been engaging with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specification (NRCS) and SALGA to deal with these challenges.

Council has also extensively engaged building control officers on this subject as well.

SACAP has issued a statement to them in the media, as well as addressed them recently on public platforms.

1.18

“Failure of SACAP to make meaningful intervention in municipalities; parastatals; government departments; public and private institutions on the unlawful process they follow in order to appoint professional architects/consultants which is not in line with the architectural code of conduct and Architectural ACT No.44 of 2000.”

This is a very broad and unsubstantiated accusation, without reference to whose ideal performance the 4th Term Council’s performance is to be benchmarked against.

SACAP consider it an important and ongoing process to engage with the multiple stakeholder groups identified.

Council is encouraged by the relationships it has developed with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs that are going a long way to ensure that all Municipalities countrywide employ persons who are registered. A submission was made in this regard.

SACAP intends continuing to promote the architectural profession in the media, as well as to engage and build productive relationships with all stakeholders who utilise architectural services. These activities make the necessity and value of appointing only registered persons well understood.

1.19

“Continuation of SACAP's Council affairs despite not quorating for an extended period.”

This is factually incorrect and the accusation is unsubstantiated.

No decision was taken by Council in any meeting which did not quorate.

1.20

“Acquisition of a building worth millions when there are much bigger crisis.”

Council took a decision to invest into property ownership that would benefit the profession in the long term.

Council resolved to do this especially in light of coming to the end of an unduly expensive rental lease for SACAP’s previous and unsuitable premises.

SACAP requires quality in amenities, aesthetic and space allocation for staff that now reflect the values of the architectural profession that it serves.

 

 

 

2.

A4C’s Demands of SACAP:

SACAP’s response

2.1.

Immediate dissolution of Council/board because in its current form it is illegitimately constituted as far as the Act is concerned.

Please refer to Points 1.1, 1.2 and 1.4 above.

Furthermore, the 4th Term Council has always had an open door policy.

SACAP welcomes and encourages all registered persons and Voluntary Organisations to engage in robust debates on matters affecting the profession.

Recognised VAs have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with SACAP. This MOU allows their Executive to engage with SACAP on matters affecting the profession at senior management level.

Every newsletter of the Registrar has always given an email address and SACAP's social media details and the queries so received have all been dealt with successfully and efficiently.

2.2.

We call for a thorough forensic investigation into the affairs of both Council and the registrar’s activities.

This is baseless. SACAP welcomes any stakeholder to present prima facie evidence.

 

 

2.3.

We also call for the suspension of annual registration fees until investigations have been concluded.

 

SACAP is mandated by Section 12 of the Act to determine the Annual Registration Fees payable to Council.

Therefore these fees are due and payable in order for architectural professionals to remain registered and in practice.

2.4.

For the Minister of the Department of Public Works to appoint an interim Council/board in accordance with the Act to ensure that there is no Interruption of day-to-day operations continue.

The Act outlines this as a Ministerial matter.

2.5.

Finally – We call for an inquiry into the current CBE board’s fitness to hold office, in light of their failure to investigate complaints against SACAP by members of the profession. It should be noted that CBE’s failure to exercise its mandate extends to the other professional bodies as well.

This is out of SACAP’s jurisdiction.

Issued on behalf of the SACAP 4th Term Council:

Mr Yashaen Luckan

President

The South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP)