The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) of Zimbabwe under which the Factories and Works Inspectorate falls requires all inspection bodies to be accredited in accordance with ISO/IEC 17020 in order to be registered as an independent inspection authority. The objective of this requirement is to have confidence of inspection bodies performing inspections in both the regulatory and voluntary domain in order to determine that products, machinery, equipment and processes comply with legislation and meet technical, regulatory and procurement requirements.
To implement this requirement, NSSA the delegated authority for occupational health and safety issues in Zimbabwe with the Ministry of Labour as the responsible authority entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Southern African Development Community Service (SADCAS). SADCAS is a multi – economy accreditation body and a subsidiarity organization of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) established to meet the accreditation needs of SADC member states without national accreditation body including Zimbabwe.
The MOU spells out the operational relationship between SADCAS as the accreditation body and NSSA the regulator. The main objective of the MOU is to provide for a structured cooperation between SADCAS and NSSA and outlines the Parties obligations. SADCAS main obligation is to provide NSSA with an accreditation system based on verifying competence whilst NSSA’s main obligation is to grant approval to inspection bodies based on their accreditation status.
The SADCAS IBAP was established in 2010 and up to date 4 inspection bodies from Zimbabwe have been accredited and subsequently registered as inspection authorities. A number of applications from inspection bodies from Zimbabwe are still under process.
Following the success of this accreditation body – regulator model, efforts are underway to promote the model in other SADC Member States that are serviced by SADCAS. Close cooperation between the regulator and the accreditation body is essential to ensure that the service delivered by SADCAS as the accreditation body and the accredited conformity assessment body community is meeting the needs and expectations of the regulators.