What is South Africa’s Competition Regime and What’s New?
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on 13 February 2019, signed the Competition Amendment Act (‘the Amendments’) into law.1 At the time of writing, the effective date of the Amendments has not yet been announced. This note unpacks some of the changes from an economic perspective.
The first version of the Competition Amendment Bill was released for public comment on 1 December 20172, with revised versions being available in July and October 2018, following comment and public hearings.
South Africa has developed a strong and admirable competition law. The South African competition regime and the related institutions (the Competition Commission, Competition Tribunal and Competition Appeals Court), created in terms of the Competition Act (number 89 of 19983) have been successful in creating a more competitive economy during the past two decades. In its 2017/18 year, the Competition Commission finalised 388 mergers in the period under review. Over the same period 146 cartel cases were investigated, and 193 enforcement (investigation and/or prosecution of anti-competitive conduct) cases were finalised after screening.4 Successes have also been highlighted by institutions such as the World Bank, which has published studies showing that South Africa’s cartel detection has led to lower prices.5 The shine of these successes dims in the face of criticisms that South Africa’s markets are not competitive and are not inclusive. Competitive and inclusive markets will enable the people to participate in the economic enterprise and take people out from under the thumb of poverty, inequality, corruption and exclusion.