Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently exalted the benefits of antitrust law at a joint COMESA-CTC (Competition and Tariff Commission of Zimbabwe) conference for sitting judges, held in Victoria Falls. Below is an excerpt of his oral remarks, given at the opening of the event:
“Competition and consumer protection laws, are therefore, key enablers of free, open and liberalised trade between countries and foreign regional integration. Against this backdrop, these laws must continue to enhance consumer interests and the realisation of our country’s development aspirations as set out in the National Development Strategy and Vision 2030. To this end, under the radar are the cartels, and all those who collude in promoting unjustified price increases, illicit activities and currency manipulation for the purposes of realising super profits.
Andreas Stargard, a competition partner at Primerio Ltd., notes that President Mnangagwa was once a practicing attorney himself, prior to his political ascent within the ZANU-PF party, although the precise history of the president’s legal studies and degrees remains somewhat murky. “As a former legal practitioner himself, Mnangagwa knows that an educated judge is a better judge. Thus, his admonition to the members of the judiciary present at the conference (at whom the event was aimed in the first place) to better acquaint themselves with competition law & economics was timely and meaningful,” he said. Stargard adds: “There is hardly anything more frustrating than presenting an antitrust case — which is usually difficult in its own right — to an uninformed judicial decision-maker, who shows little understanding or interest in the subject-matter, or who dismisses economics as extraneous; you cannot practice competition law without an understanding of economics.”
The president concluded: “In our case as Zimbabwe, competition law and the attendant robust policy frameworks are important towards the speedy realisation of Vision 2030, of becoming a prosperous and empowered upper middle income economy. This aspiration will be attained through an effective empowered and agile judicial system, which strives for fairness and increased efficiencies across all the productive sectors of the economy. It is, therefore, most opportune that this workshop is taking place at the stage when our economy is transitioning from stabilisation to growth. To this end judicial staff must be kept updated and knowledgeable about activities taking place in industry and commerce. Undoubtedly, judges and other related stakeholders remain key to the interpretation of competition and consumer protection laws. The intricate nexus between the interpretation and enforcement of laws across sectors of the economy cannot be overemphasised. The judiciary should also address competition issues that arise in disputes before the judicial system. This is pertinent more so that competition law intersects with many fields hence training such as this one is an essential requirement in modern day competition law.”