EDITORIAL: SA Architects - Your Profession Needs You

The South African regulatory body for architecture, SACAP,  is in turmoil and confusion. It appears that the Council has failed its members, the public, the country and the profession. Something has gone terribly wrong and if you speak to ten people closely associated with the saga you will hear ten quite different stories as to how matters got to this point. The CEO, Marella O'Reilley, is strangely silent on this matter. A word from the top would be expected at times like this to dispell misconceptions, rumours and speculation.

About a month ago the Minister of Public Works, the Honourable Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, fired SACAP's President Dr Yashaen Luckan as well as two other Council members. In response Dr Luckan sued the Minister for unfair dismissal and was reinstated, along with the other two, following an urgent high court application. Dr Luckan will hold the position until his term expires in April of 2018.

SACAP is a regulatory body; it plays a key role in keeping the profession free from corruption, fraud and charlatans as well as providing a vital channel for public complaints relating to malpractice. Its other roles are essentially ceremonial as the architectural profession itself is held together by the Schools of Architecture, the South African Institute of Architects and its associated Voluntary Associations.

Under Dr Luckan's term of office the relationships that SACAP had held for decades with the country's architectural academics and professional associations appears to have dissipated in favour of establishing strong relationships with the Architectural Technologist profession and pro-actively engaging the transformation process without consulting the Schools of Architecture or the South African Institute of Architects - who had established and successfully applied well tested RPL methodologies over the last five years. (RPL, Recognition of Prior Learning, is the key mechanism deployed in the transformation of the profession process.) By doing this he alienated himself from the very foundations of profession.

The current Council will remain in limbo until April 2018 when the 5th Term Council comes into effect. At this point we have no information and no cause to celebrate or be optimistic about SACAP's future agenda.

However, there is something every architect in South Africa can do to save the profession from the catastrophic outcome experienced in countries north of us; join the South African Institute of Architects and become an active player in your region's Voluntary Association's engagements. Find the fees, find the time and find that enthusiasm that built Africa's strongest and most vibrant architectural profession.


Pedro Sousa Buccellato, Executive Editor, Architect Africa News Network