The Competition Authority has been granted another nine months to investigate Trans Africa and Sefalana Cash and Carry for “refusal to deal.” The Competition Act expressly prohibits the latter transgression which is an agreement that involves restricting the supply of goods that results in substantially lessening competition.
Allegations leveled against Trans Africa and Sefalana are that the two wholesalers are only buying and selling Blue Crystal sugar, a brand of Tongaat Hullet in their outlets and refusing to do the same with Pure Sugar, a brand of Bokomo Botswana and Selati Sugar, a brand of DCS Tropicana. The Authority’s investigations started on December 16 last year and all along the Authority has been gathering evidence and has received representations from Trans Africa and Sefalana. The Authority’s officials have also held a series of meetings with DCS Tropicana, the last being on September 11 this year to gather information about the matter at hand. According to the Act, the Executive Secretary shall refer a matter upon which an investigation was conducted, to the Competition Commission within one year.
Where the Authority has not referred a complaint to the Commission within such time frame, it shall be considered to have issued a notice of non-referral. In an affidavit deposed to by the Director of Competition and Research Analysis, Dr. Mokubung Mokubung, the Authority has indicated that its investigations are not complete and that it would require some time to tie up loose ends. At a hearing of the Commission held at the Authority’s offices in Gaborone last Wednesday, an extension of nine months was granted. In his affidavit, Mokubung says that while progress has been made, the Authority is still facing challenges with regard to consultations with other wholesalers and suppliers of sugar.
“In particular, Bokomo Botswana, Tsetseng Retail Group, Trident Holdings [trading as] Pick ‘n’ Pay, Retail Group t/a Shoprite, Trade World and CA Sales & Distribution are still to respond to the Authority’s requests for information that were sent sometime in August 2014. The information sought from the above named enterprises was their sales figures for sugar in the period 2009 up to 2013, this information is crucial as it would assist the Authority in calculating the market shares of the enterprises in the wholesaling and sugar supply in Botswana,” he states.