Sugar Industry

Letter to Mr Velaphi Ratshefola MD CCBA (II)

Mr. Velaphi Ratshefola 15 June 2018
Managing Director
Coca-Cola Beverage Company of South Africa

Dear Mr Ratshefola,

We refer to your letter dated 13 June 2018 in reply to our correspondence dated 25 and 31 May 2018 respectively. Thank you for replying on the date that you promised. We understand that you are busy and that many people probably have had to participate in crafting your reply.

Unfortunately your letter is carefully crafted to avoid addressing the simple substance of our enquiry. We asked simple, honest questions and we hoped that we would be afforded the courtesy of clear, unambiguous answers. This matter is serious – 15,000 people have lost their jobs in the precipitous sugar industry decline of the last five years – so forgive us for not simply accepting soothing phrases for substantive answers. Let us try again.

We need an answer to the following question:

  • Are you purchasing imported sugar?
    A yes or no answer will suffice.

Our further investigations have revealed that imports of sugar from the UAE are escalating exponentially and can only be justified by a large local industrial purchaser. The coincidence of the information available to us correlates to the information and tip-offs we have been receiving that you are the purchaser and the Al Khaleej Sugar Company is the supplier of the sugar from the UAE. We do not know if this is true.

We seek clarity on the information available to us and ask that you set the record straight by answering the following question:

  • Are you purchasing sugar imported from the UAE?
    A yes or no answer will suffice.

Given the lack of information in your reply, we are unable to assess whether you are in compliance with clause 8.1 of the merger conditions. In our understanding, for you to discharge your obligations under the merger conditions, you must be able to demonstrate substantive compliance and not mere technical compliance. Obfuscation does not bode well for comfort in this regard and strengthens our suspicions that this is a matter for thorough investigation by the Competition Commission and other authorities.

Since the UAE does not have sugar cane farms, the sugar they produce are sourced outside of South Africa and most likely dumped product and so it is especially egregious when local companies purchase such product from the UAE. There is sufficient local supply available at commercially attractive prices that would enable all participants to benefit. The purchase of dumped sugar is resulting in poor farmers and farmworkers losing their livelihoods and protects jobs in the countries of origin of the dumped product. The purchase of imported dumped sugar is causing severe harm and prejudice to the vulnerable communities in rural areas.

It is as much in your interest as in South African workers’ and producers’ interests that these depressing suspicions are allayed by firm and true facts. Please understand then why we persist in asking you these two simple questions. Please give us straight answers?

Francois Baird
FairPlay Movement

Response from CCBSA:

Download as PDF: FairPlay 04 June 2018 Response