25 September 2009 | Allie Anderson
The deputy president of South Africa has pledged the government's "unrelenting" commitment to fighting suspected price-fixing among major food suppliers.
In his address to the 10th annual Congress of South African Trade Unions conference in Johannesburg this week, Kgalema Motlanthe highlighted seven cases of collusion currently being investigated or prosecuted by the authorities.
Suspected price-fixing schemes in the bread, maize, dairy and poultry industries have been referred to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution. In addition, the country's Competition Commission (CC) is investigating other examples, such as the fats and oils sector.
"It is unacceptable that food prices should be artificially inflated through the collusive scheming among the major suppliers resulting in more misery for the poor.
The state will be, and is, unrelenting in dealing with this sort of crime," Motlanthe said. Meanwhile, the CC is also probing South Africa's biggest supermarkets amid fears they have broken competition rules.
In a speech at the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa's conference in Durban this week, professor Johann Kirsten said consumers will always pay high food prices if "cosy" relationships between major supermarkets and food suppliers continue, reported the Independent Online.