Labour, black business, consumers...Walmart faces a storm of protest

2011-03-26 08:53

Labour, organised black business and the country’s consumer watchdog this week backed, for very different reasons, the government’s call to postpone public hearings of the R16?billion merger between local retail giant Massmart and US multinational Walmart.

The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) wants the hearings postponed because it thinks big local retail companies have failed to empower black African entrepreneurs.

The South Africa Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) said it would offer Massmart and Walmart enough time to give all stakeholders adequate information on public interest issues.

However, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) and Massmart differed. The CGCSA questioned the tribunal’s autonomy from the state and Massmart asked why the state was making eleventh-hour submissions when it had known about the deal for six months.

These contrasting views emerged after the tribunal postponed the hearings of the Walmart takeover of a 51% stake of Massmart from May 9 until 13.

May 16 has been reserved for legal argument.

The Economic Development, Trade and Industry, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries departments requested a postponement of the hearings, which were scheduled for three days starting on March 22.

The government is concerned that the Competition Commission, which last month approved the deal without conditions, had not dealt adequately with public interest issues relating to ­Walmart’s takeover of 51% of Massmart.

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