The transformation of the property sector is a journey that requires the commitment of all industry role players – also the new players included as property professionals in the new Property Professional Act says Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, executive chair of Black Women Organisation South Africa (BWOSA) and author of the new Act’s chapter on transformation.
Dr Kula-Ameyaw is well-known as an outspoken advocate for transformation in the property sector. Transformation is her portfolio as member of the EAAB Board. Property Professional asked her to comment on the new Act and how it will promote transformation in the property sector.
Transformation in the real estate industry remains a challenge and the EAAB as the government-mandated regulating body for the industry, has a leading role to play. However, in the last couple of years the organisation has struggled to fulfill it’s mandate due to capacity constraints and unstable management. What is your comment?
Yes, the EAAB might have capacity issues but as a Board, especially to be able to fulfill the transformation mandate, we are alive to those challenges and we are working to resolve those with the executive leadership.
Transformation is a journey that requires all South Africans to be committed to it. The real estate sector needs all the industry players, which, by the way, includes the new players in the Property Practioners Act 23 of 2019. The second player is the new regulator which will be named the Property Professionals Regulatory Authority or something like that and the government. These stakeholders had played a role in the transformation of the legislation as we all contributed to the Property Practioners Bill from 2017 to 2019 until it got to Parliament.
The journey began when we decided to change the 42-year-old EAAB Act with the new Act. It is worth noting that this is the only Act that was not opposed in Parliament. Instead, on the day it was submitted for promulgation, there was jubilation in Parliament. In my view, that says a few things. First, that the government consulted sufficiently – I remember the robust debates and disagreements during the consultation period so that we find each other as stakeholders. Post-promulgation of the Act we can only expect compliance and pulling together to make real estate a better and transformed industry.
As the Board’s Transformation Chairperson, who has driven transformation in various sectors and contributed to the BBBEE codes review, I knew the importance of legislation – writing down what you want to see in the legislation. I then spearheaded the inclusion of what is now Chapter 4 of the Act which deals with transformation and the Transformation Fund. The beauty for me is that even post my board career at the EAAB, I can hold the entity accountable based on legislation provisions.
To drive transformation, the EAAB launched various initiatives such as for instance the One Learner programme and also promised exemptions for PDI’s on educational requirements etc. How effective have these programs been? What role do you want to see the EAAB play towards making it easier for black people to enter and succeed in the real estate sector?
The One Learner program is but one program that has been rolled out by the EAAB a few years ago and it, like any other project, has not been without challenges. Some of the challenges might be internal, others might be from external strategic role players like the Services SETA.
Whilst it is easier to place the blame at the door of the EAAB, we should be mindful of the role played by the industry players. Hosting these learners requires host employers who have a passion for development and transformation, who will be ready for hand holding and to exercise a bit of patience and compassion. My advice is that estate agencies must invest in the One Learner programme and or other new entries as part of their corporate social responsibility rather that expecting too much from the learners.
The role played by the EAAB is the payment of the stipend via SSETA as well as the coordination and placement with host employees. However, a concerted effort is required to build relations with all strategic stakeholders. There is a thinking process to include other stakeholders beyond the learners which includes adult professionals of various fields. With the limitation in the impact of the One Learner program, the gap could be closed by other initiatives.
Let’s talk about the Act, the new role players, transformation initiatives and industry involvement in the drafting of the regulations to accompany the Act.
We are officially aware that there is a Task Team that is working on the regulations. Regulations in their nature are meant to clarify and simplify the Act’s provisions for seamless execution. The main driver at this stage is the Department of Human Settlements that is supposed to take the lead towards finalising the implementation date of the Act after liaising with the Presidency.
The new challenge is to decode the implications of the Act on other professionals that are included in the Act. Yes, with some there could still be grey areas that need further zooming into, engagements and risk and benefit analysis. The new regulator, or EAAB for now, needs to development a strategy to roll out the Act.
After engaging in the bill and all the provisions, as the Transformation Committee we were pro-active is setting up the Transformation Fund with some basic resources allocated to that. Whilst the Act states that we should have a Transformation Fund 6 months post the promulgation, we were ahead in both thinking and doing, hence we set up the fund in October 2018. It is part of the CEO’s contract to raise the funds from other players to resource the Transformation Fund beyond the set up funds. That will ensure sustainability.
The focus should be on how to limit the risk of claims on the Transformation Fund and finding ways to increase the fund.
Allow me to sensitize the industry including bigger players that various options are being explored to fund transformation – those could be levies like a skills development levy. I am familiar with that territory and approach because I have worked on both the formation of the Skills Development Act and Skills Development Levy Act.
The Act also makes provision for the Research and Development Division, my take is that this will drive research and international benchmarks especially in how a regulator can leverage technology in advanced countries.
What I think will be important in this transformation journey will be communication among all stakeholders like the DHS, the old and new industry players as wells as the strategic partners like SSETA and EAAB.
I believe in our small way we can all leave a legacy in the real estate industry.