Tack­ling mo­nop­o­lies one at a time

CityPress - - Voices -

In the past four weeks alone, at least 19 emails from the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion landed in our mail­box, each mak­ing some sort of an an­nounce­ment of the work that goes on within its of­fices.

The no­tices range from de­ci­sions on col­lu­sion by con­struc­tion com­pa­nies in ten­der at a pa­per plant in KwaZulu-Na­tal; boat op­er­a­tors col­lud­ing to fix prices on a Robben Is­land ten­der; and pay TV chan­nel DStv Me­dia Sales ad­mit­ting guilt and pay­ing a fine, to ten­der col­lu­sion re­lat­ing to pad­locks in Cape Town and the ap­proval of merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions.

In the past two weeks, the com­mis­sion held pub­lic hear­ings into gro­cery re­tail be­cause it be­lieves there are “features in the sec­tor that may be pre­vent­ing, dis­tort­ing or re­strict­ing com­pe­ti­tion and, ul­ti­mately, ad­versely af­fect con­sumers and house­holds”. The fo­cus in­cluded the im­pact of na­tional su­per­mar­ket chains on town­ships, peri-ur­ban ar­eas and ru­ral ar­eas, and the in­for­mal econ­omy. The out­comes are awaited.

It fur­ther an­nounced that it had launched a probe into three big drug man­u­fac­tur­ing firms for ex­ces­sive pric­ing, dis­crim­i­na­tion and ex­clu­sion­ary con­duct of breast cancer, lung cancer and other cancer-re­lated medicines.

The com­mis­sion de­serves ap­plause for be­com­ing an ac­tivist for the cit­i­zenry, and tak­ing on in­dus­tries and shak­ing up long-es­tab­lished prac­tices that were re­garded as nor­mal. It proves that if you want to take on mo­nop­o­lies, of what­ever hue, it can be done.

Don’t de­cry “white monopoly cap­i­tal” rhetor­i­cally. Use the in­stru­ments at our dis­posal.

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