Naledi Pandor. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Naledi Pandor. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Misrepresentation of qualifications is a major concern in the public and private sectors, says higher education and training minister Naledi Pandor.

Speaking in a heated debate on the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill on Tuesday, Pandor said the bill strengthened the ability of South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA ) to verify qualifications.

The bill also provides for the naming and shaming of frauds who claim fake qualifications in an online public register administered by SAQA.

“The bill does not impose an intolerable burden.  We have an extensive learner database within SAQA with over 20-milllion learner records on what is a digital database, which can be accessed fairly speedily. We believe this legislation and its requirements are enforceable,” said Pandor before the National Assembly voted to pass the bill.

It will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

There have been many scandals recently over public servants and top executives with bogus qualifications.

Tuesday’s debate on the bill was heated after weekend reports that DA senior MP and chief whip John Steenhuisen may not meet his party’s proposed minimum requirement for holding public office.  The Sunday Times reported that the DA in KZN suggested that the position of the party’s chief whip should be filled by a degree holder. Steenhuisen does not have  more than a matric certificate.

“The constitution sets out very clearly what the qualifications are to sit in this house. That constitution specifically ensured that no matter whether you are a mineworker or a brain surgeon, you could seek election to represent your community,” Steenhuisen said in his speech in parliament on Tuesday.

“How ironic it is to see the EFF – the so-called vanguard of the working class – argue for some form of qualified franchise where only those with university qualifications can get elected and serve in this parliament. The self-proclaimed ayatollahs of academia, this little clique in the EFF, seeks to persecute those who don’t conform to their elitist world-view.

“You see, this is the ultimate hypocrisy that is the EFF: they like to play dress-up as miners and domestic workers, but they don’t think that real miners and domestic workers are good enough to be members of parliament,” Steenhuisen said.

He confirmed that he did not have a university degree.

“I enrolled for a BA in politics and law at Unisa in 1994. However,  like many South Africans,  I never finished it due to financial and work pressures.I am not ashamed of this. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a public representative and that I wanted to work in politics to change people’s lives for the better,” said Steenhuisen.

With Tamar Khan