The Standards Act that will ensure the continuation of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) as a legal entity tasked with developing and maintaining national standards, has been promulgated. The legislation has been signed by the president and published in the Government Gazette. The act will facilitate the creation of entities designed to monitor conformity with prescribed product standards. The continued adherence to a sound standards framework will help local companies to compete in the global economy and support international trade. The legislation outlines the objectives and functions of the SABS including the promotion of commodity, product and service quality, the provision of a voluntary SABS mark scheme, the forging of working relations with similar international bodies, the provision of relevant information on standards requirements and the development and amendment of standards where necessary.
The act outlines how the SABS board is to be appointed by the minister of trade and industry in accordance with certain criteria. Members will serve a five-year term that can be extended. The board will be required to meet at least four times per year. An advisory forum will be instituted consisting of representatives of interested bodies to provide advice to the board when requested. The legislation also prescribes the procedure for appointment of the chief executive officer and staff and the conditions of employment including performance agreements.
A key responsibility of the SABS is to develop, through consensus-building, and maintain a national norm to guide the development and amendment process for national standards. The norm would have to take into consideration the interests of manufacturers, suppliers and consumers. All new standards or amendments would have to be published in the Government Gazette. Similarly, any withdrawal of a standard would have to receive notice in the Government Gazette. The SABS could introduce a standard based on the provisions of a similar international organisation.
The legislation would empower the SABS to appoint standards development organisations that would operate in specific areas and feed standards through to the SABS for approval and notification. A register of all development organisations would have to be made available to the general public. A research and development component would evaluate the need for new standards and whether current standards required an upgrade. The act indicates that the SABS would claim for damages should an individual falsely claim that a product, commodity or service complied with national standards.