EAAB’s turmoil blamed on its dearth of top agents

The under representation of estate agents on the 12 member Estate Agency Affairs Board has been blamed in part for its poor contribution in promoting the real estate industry and for its present reported state of being in “turmoil.”

Criticism by Jan le Roux, chairman of the PA Group, has also been levelled at the board’s administrative ability, particularly in its late issuing, or in some instances, the non-issuing of compulsory Fidelity Fund certificates to estate agents

However, le Roux does express confidence in its revival following the recent appointment of Mrs Nomonde Mapetla as chief executive officer of the statutory body, who he believes has the ability and resourcefulness to improve the board’s deteriorating service levels.

Le Roux’s disparagement of the board follows recent newspaper reports of the Estate Agency Affairs Board being in a state of turmoil, allegations of financial irregularities and five confirmed resignations. The report follows the completion of a five-month-long forensic report involving board members and irregularities, which is currently being assessed by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Mpahlwa.

Le Roux is particularly critical of the board’s statutory composition in that it only allows for a maximum of five of its 15 members to be estate agents. This, he insists strips it of meaningful estate agent representation. The present board’s ability had been further limited by its appointment of agents not being drawn from the ranks of estate agents of national standing or senior leadership status.

This had been underlined by reports that some board members had resigned in protest in the wake of the forensic report. This, in Le Roux’s view, was hypocritical and which he regarded with contempt. “Their attempt to wash their hands of the affair after the facts is little more than locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. If they had been so concerned about the developments at board member level they should have resigned there and then not after the forensic report had been submitted to the Minister of Trade and Industry.

The same selection “weakness” was apparent in the composition of the previous board - members are selected for a three year term – and this le Roux directly links to the protracted lack of Board generated industry initiatives, particularly in forceful and progressive empowerment policies, which many mainstream players had been anxious to support.

While he acknowledged the need for a statutory body, he believed a sound knowledge of the industry was absolutely vital to its effectiveness and that it should be numerically smaller. Greater knowledge would sharpen its focus while a handful of members would speed up decision-making.

The irony of the EAAB’s seemingly low priority in promoting the industry was that the board was well funded to launch initiatives, particularly empowerment policies. That it had not thrown its full commitment behind upliftment cost the industry some “brilliant” black potential leaders and entrepreneurs, many of whom had been headhunted by other industries. This, in an industry anxious to promote integration and black leadership was “shameful”.

Le Roux said if the Minister of Trade and Industry was looking at the reconstitution of another board in view of the reported five member resignations from the current board or as a result of the forensic audit “then he should, in light of where we’re at now and in view of the Property Charter becoming a reality, be far more selective in terms of the ability and industry knowledge of board members.”

He also saw soundness in proposals being made to restructure the legislation around a lower number of board members and their appointments to serve on the board being made on a rotational basis rather than in the form of an entirely new board every third year.

This militated against the continued implementation of long-term policies of the board and stripped the board of its experience and knowledge. It was also a fact that newly appointed boards spent at least the first few months in office becoming acquainted with their responsibilities and this blunted their immediate effectiveness.

Le Roux would also like to see the DTI extend its current investigation of the board to evaluate the huge workforce being currently employed by the board. In his view it was grossly overstaffed for its primary purpose of issuing fidelity fund certificates.

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