Dewald van Rensburg
AMENDMENT OF COMPETITION ACT
3A new amendment to the Competition Act mentioned by Zuma will be finalised for Cabinet’s consideration by October this year, said Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel.
The high concentration of many markets in South Africa – such as retail and banking – was singled out by the World Bank for retarding economic expansion last year, noted Patel.
“The work of the Competition Commission across a wide range of sectors has convinced it, the regulator and the policymaker that the law is inadequate to address instances of market dominance by a small number of firms,” said Patel, hinting that the amendment might introduce a potentially radical change to the way in which harm caused by uncompetitive behaviour is judged in competition law.
Local experts have long complained that South Africa’s Competition Act makes it almost impossible for anyone besides large companies to make a case against dominant companies.
This is because the act requires a demonstration of “anti-competitive effects”, which is impossible to prove in cases where a small business has no chance of entering a sector.
According to Patel, the act does not “adequately address public concerns about market structure, particularly high levels of concentration in the economy”.
Another concern which the amendment may address is the law’s inefficacy when it comes to tackling abuse of dominance through excessive pricing and other practices. There have been more than 30 cases of abuse of dominance since the Competition Act came into being in 1999.
Last year, a controversial amendment to the act criminalised cartel behaviour, making individuals and not just the companies they run liable. This has paved the way for fines and even jail time for cartel members.
MINING COMPANY OF SA BILL
4Zuma said “direct state involvement in mining” was still on the cards. “The Mining Company of SA Bill will be presented to Cabinet and Parliament during the year,” he added.
Martin Madlala, spokesperson for the department of mineral resources, was unable to comment on the contents of new bill being mooted.
Currently, government’s main mining vehicle is the African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the Central Energy Fund.
However, there are plans to move the company to the department of mineral resources.
In January 2016, Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane issued the African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation Bill, which provided for the establishment of the mining company as a new, state-owned, stand-alone company.
The bill proposed that the state mining company acquire and develop mining interests.
At the time, the DA referred to the bill as “another potentially damaging piece of legislation”.
“If passed, it will further diminish the reputation of South Africa as a place to put money into mining. That means less investment and fewer jobs,” the DA said.
“The bill is replete with problems. It will see the company becoming the personal kingdom of Minister Zwane, with the minister having a say in almost every major decision in the company and almost complete control of its board,” the DA added.
“Further, the minister will now, more than ever, be playing both referee and player in the mining industry,” concluded the party.