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DA: Minister must appoint independent inquiry to investigate claims about Competition Commission

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DA: Minister must appoint independent inquiry to investigate claims about Competition Commission

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Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel

12th July 2018

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The DA has today written to the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, asking him to appoint an independent inquiry into the Competition Commission.

This follows issues raised with the DA by concerned parties as well as a disturbing report on the Commission in today’s edition of the Financial Mail.

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We cannot allow any form of corruption or mismanagement to taint or damage its reputation in this key role.

The allegations are of sufficient magnitude to warrant further investigation. This is in the interests of the Commission’s institutional integrity and stability.

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The inquiry should be required to investigate:

  • A pattern of behaviour that undermines the Commission’s integrity, substantiated by recent court judgments. These include the ruling in June by KwaZulu-Natal Deputy Judge President Isaac Madondo that the Commission had relied on conjecture, speculation and hearsay to obtain search-and-seizure warrants for ‘dawn raids’.  The judge said the Commission was guilty of a “serious breach of its duty of good faith” because it withheld information and failed to disclose material facts to the court.
  • The precise nature of the professional and financial relationship between the Commission and Ndzabandzaba Attorneys. The firm’s principal partner, Antony Ndzabandzaba, previously served as head of training and development in the Commission’s cartels division. His law firm has benefited handsomely from the Commission’s coffers in the last eighteen months, raking in over R10 million for work on cartel cases alone (63% of all such expenditure by the Commission).
  • Potential conflicts of interest among members of the Commission’s Executive Committee.
  • The purported use of VIP security protection for members of the EXCO, including the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, the Divisional Manager of Cartels and the Chief Financial Officer; and
  • The procedural correctness of all recruitment - and appointment processes for management positions filled since 2015.

It is vital that the Minister resolves any concerns about the Commission’s integrity. He should do this by appointing an independent inquiry as soon as possible.

Given that 9.4 million South Africans are unemployed, a well-functioning Competition Commission is vital to help unlock jobs by allowing space for small and medium businesses to thrive in the economy.

 

Issued by DA

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