The Competition Commission (Commission) is one of three independent statutory bodies established in terms of the Competition Act, No. 89 of 1998 (the Act) to regulate competition between firms in the market. The other bodies are the Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) and the Competition Appeal Court (CAC). The Commission is the investigating and prosecuting agency in the competition regime while the Tribunal is the court. The CAC hears appeals against decisions of the Tribunal. Although each of the bodies functions independently of each other and of the State, the Commission and Tribunal are administratively accountable to the Economic Development Department (EDD), while the CAC is part of the judiciary.
The Commission’s ‘Vision 2030’ is the attainment of a growing and inclusive economy that serves all South Africans. This includes the eradication of poverty and unemployment by 2030 in line with the National Development Plan (NDP). The emphasis of the new vision is on the transformational role of the Commission in the economy.
The Commission must play a role in ensuring a vibrant economy and economic growth to attain the vision of the NDP and contribute to the attainment of its operational plan, the New Growth Path (NGP). In this strategy cycle, the Commission’s mission is to undertake “competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy”. This entails adopting a dynamic view to enforcement, considering both immediate and long-term implications of the Commission’s decisions on the economy. At the same time these efficiency objectives have to be balanced with the public interest, broadly understood.
The purpose of the Act is to promote and maintain competition in South Africa to:
promote the efficiency, adaptability and development of the economy; provide consumers with competitive prices and product choices; promote employment and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans; expand opportunities for South African participation in world markets and recognise the role of foreign competition in the country; ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have an equitable opportunity to participate in the economy; and promote a greater spread of ownership, in particular to increase the ownership stakes of historically disadvantaged persons.
To achieve its purpose, the Commission’s core functions, set out in section 21 of the Act, are to: