After CEO Garth Strachan’s sudden resignation last week, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) on Thursday assured stakeholders that the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) remains committed to delivering on its turnaround strategy.
Jodi Scholtz and Tshenge Demana, who were appointed by former Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies in mid-2018, alongside Strachan, will continue to steer the organisation, with Scholtz serving as lead administrator until the SABS finalises a board appointment process.
DTIC director-general Lionel October said in a statement on Thursday that Strachan had been influential in putting the SABS on a firmer footing and that his contribution had been acknowledged.
“The SABS will continue to implement the plans initiated by Strachan and this will not deter the commitment of the SABS to deliver value to South Africa,” he stated.
Strachan, together with the co-administrators, had achieved significant milestones in the past 18 months, which included reducing the net loss for the financial year ended March 31, 2019, to R4.4-million – from a R70.7-million loss in the 2017/18 financial year.
The DTIC expects the SABS to return to profitability within the next three years. In the meantime, investments were being made to upgrade high-priority laboratories, improve facilities to optimise testing conditions and to procure new equipment.
This formed part of a broader investment plan, implemented over three years, that would result in the financial stability of the organisation, October explained.
At the time of Strachan’s resignation on February 7, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said he resigned after having a fall-out with October around Strachan’s suggested “repurposed” version of the SABS.
The DA at the time said the fall-out had stemmed from the Portfolio Committee’s oversight visit to the SABS last week, where it was said that the entity was essentially bankrupt, would run out of cash in the next financial year and was battling to attract thousands of customers it had lost under the previous board and management.
The DA said it believes the departure of Strachan would have a knock-on effect on exporters who rely on the SABS for quality assurance in international markets and for consumers who expect goods that display the SABS mark to meet minimum standards for health and safety.