Cosatu welcomes Namibian Supreme Court decision on Walmart

Patrick Craven, COSATU National Spokesperson  

COSATU has applauded the ruling by Namibia’s Supreme Court which reinstates conditions imposed by competition authorities on Walmart’s purchase of South African retailer Massmart Holdings, which has three Namibian subsidiaries – Game Discount World, Windhoek Cash and Carry and CCW Namibia Properties.

The Namibian High Court earlier this year scrapped these conditions, which were that the R16.5bn merger should undergo a separate review by the ministry of trade and industry, to make sure that the deal would not cost Namibia any jobs, would not harm small and medium-sized businesses, and would promote “greater spread of ownership” among black Namibians.

Walmart’s lawyers had argued that these conditions were “vague, unlawful, irrational and therefore invalid”, but the Supreme Court today has rejected this argument and reinstated the conditions on appeal. “The order made by the High Court declaring the conditions unlawful and invalid will be set aside,” ruled Supreme Court Acting Judge Kate O’Regan and two other judges.

Massmart runs a total of nine wholesale and retail chains with 288 stores in 14 African countries. So this ruling could have international repercussions, not least in South Africa, where the Competition Appeals Court has been hearing a similar appeal by SACCAWU and three government South African ministers, against the Competition Tribunal ruling to permit the merger with only minimal conditions.

COSATU has campaigned for the Walmart-Massmart merger to be banned, but urges the Appeal Court to follow the Namibian Supreme Court’s lead and insist that at the very least there is greater protection for jobs and small businesses in the retail and manufacturing sectors if the merger is allowed to go ahead.

Cosatu Today 4 November 2011

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