Massmart-Walmart appoint leading academic to study impact in South Africa


The merged Massmart-Walmart have appointed of the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, as a member of the panel of experts that will conduct the study to identify how local South African suppliers can be assisted in order to benefit from the merger.

The move comes after the Massmart-Walmart merger was fiercely opposed by government and labour. The merger was decided at the competition appeals court (CAC) after government and labour expressed concern that it will damage local industry. The CAC approved the merger and attached conditions. These include an order to establish a panel of expert that will study ways of promoting local suppliers.

In its statement Walmart-Massmart said a core focus, as described in the CAC ruling, will be “to canvass the best means by which South African small and medium sized suppliers can participate in Wal-Mart’s global value chain training programmes that might be established to train local South African suppliers on how to conduct business with the merged entity …”

Parties involved in the matter, government, labour and Walmart were to each appoint an expert of their choice.

Massmart CEO, Grant Pattison, said “Professor Morris’s credentials, which include working with labour, government and the private sector, speak for themselves. He is well suited to participate in and make an objective contribution to this study based upon his intimate knowledge and extensive expertise in the area of global value chains and international competitiveness”.

Professor Morris is founder and Head of the UCT’s Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing. As an undergraduate, he studied Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Cape Town before moving on to the University of Sussex where he obtained an MA in Comparative Politics and a PhD from the Institute of Development Studies. Upon returning to South Africa in 1976, he lectured in the Economic History department at the University of Cape Town, and spent a number of years working as a part time trade unionist, for which he was detained in prison for 3 months.

In January 1982, Professor Morris temporarily left academia and took up the full-time position, as Branch Secretary of the General Workers Union in Durban.  In 1986 he returned to academia as a senior researcher at the University of Natal.  Whilst still an academic in 1988 he started a national association for academics opposed to the Apartheid regime – the Union of Democratic University Staff Associations – and was elected General Secretary (1988-90) and Deputy President (1991).

Professor Morris then concentrated on pursuing an academic and management career in the university (as Head of the School of Development Studies) and private sector environment as a director of a consulting company – Benchmarking and Manufacturing Analysts.  Professor Morris is widely published in a number of fields including; development, political economy, international competitiveness; industrial restructuring and industrial policy and global value chains. His recent research, policy activities and publications have focused on the power dynamics of global value chains, industrial restructuring and international competitiveness.

Addressing parliament this week the minister of economic development Ebrahim Patel said government’s objective in taking the matter to the CAC “was to ensure that all pertinent matters in relation to the effect of the merger on employment, local manufacturers, and small business could be ventilated before the competition authorities,” Patel said.

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