SAQA Recognition does not give statutory powers to non-statutory professional bodies

SAQA Recognition does not give statutory powers to non-statutory professional bodies

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) wishes to clarify its regulatory mandate and scope as it relates to its recognition of non-statutory bodies.  In particular, this communication focuses on the powers granted in legislation, to non-statutory bodies on the basis of their recognition status.  A case in point is the inclusion of such a recognised non-statutory body in the South African Bureau of Standards’ (SABS) SANS 102454 standard.

SAQA’s mandate in relation to professional bodies derives from the National Qualifications Framework NQF Act, 2008 (Act No. 67 of 2008) (hereinafter referred to as the NQF Act) and finds expression in SAQA’s Policy and Criteria for Recognising a Professional Body and Registering a Professional Designation for Purposes of the National Qualifications Framework Act (the Policy and Criteria).

Section 13(1)(i) of the NQF Act requires SAQA to:

i. develop and implement policy and criteria for recognising a professional body and registering a professional designation for the purposes of this Act, after consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies of expert practitioners in occupational fields and with the Quality Councils (QCs); and

ii. recognise a professional body and register its professional designation if the criteria

contemplated in subparagraph (i) have been met.

Statutory bodies are established as a result of an Act of Parliament and govern the practice of specific occupations in South Africa. Anyone who is in a profession that is governed by a statutory body must be registered with the relevant South African professional body or council to practice their occupation in South Africa.

Non-statutory bodies are considered ‘voluntary’, as professionals are not required to be registered with the professional body in order to practice their profession.  A Nonstatutory body is not constituted through an Act of Parliament, but in response to a need identified by a collective of practitioners. No law compels anyone to be a member of a non-statutory professional body. Recognition from SAQA as mandated by the NQF Act, does not give the professional body statutory status.

Both the statutory and non-statutory bodies must meet the criteria for recognition as a professional body as stipulated in the Policy and Criteria for the Recognition of a Professional Body and the Registration of a Professional Designation for the Purpose of the NQF.

In SAQA’s view, the inclusion of non-statutory professional bodies in SABS Standards on the basis of their SAQA recognition status, violates constitutional principles, including the freedom of association and freedom of trade, occupation and profession.  The primary issue is that the standard misconstrues the nature and purpose of SAQA’s recognition of a non-statutory professional body under the NQF Act relies on this recognition to achieve an entirely different regulatory purpose, i.e. the authority to issue certificates of compliance in the case of SANS 10254.

SAQA must emphasise that:

  • Non-statutory professional bodies have no statutory authority to regulate any trade, occupation or profession; 
  • A non-statutory professional body exercises professional authority by virtue of its constitution / founding document which binds its members only;  and
  • Membership / registration concerning a non-statutory professional body is voluntary.

Issued by: SAQA

Enquiries: Japie Nel, Senior Manager: Registration and Recognition

Contact details: Tel: (012) 431-5006 | E-mail address