By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA
According to the South African Press Association and Desi Heita, a journalist for New Era (“Newspaper for a New Namibia”) the Namibian and South African trade ministers are expected to meet today to strategize on what is to become the biggest corporate challenge ever in the region – dealing with American retail giant Wal-Mart.
Six days after Walmart completed its acquisition of a controlling stake in Massmart, it started advertising price cuts and new business opportunities for South Africa. Massmart also said it intends to create 15,000 jobs in the next five years.
Walmart has 55 brands around the world in, among other countries, Canada, Brazil, China, Chile, Japan and Mexico. Its share of Massmart would be a stake in emerging African markets. The Namibian Competition Commission (NCC) is appealing the High Court ruling of the Wal-Mart and Massmart merger in the Supreme Court, while the South African Competition Commission is reconvening to determine their next move.
Both authorities feel that Wal-Mart, with its documented history of poor trade union and employee relations, should be given a clear script and map on how to engage in business in southern Africa, and clearly stipulated consequences if it fails to engage in ethical dealings, or follow the rules as outlined.
It will be interesting to see what comes of the merger, jobs and economic changes in the southern region of Africa, and the impact on the people.