The SA liquor industry has a long and unhappy history of competitive inequality. There are hugely powerful players in every sector. All of them acquired their position through mergers and/or acquisitions that were either actively encouraged by the government or rubber-stamped by competition authorities whose telescope was firmly fixed to the blind eye. Since the democratic era there have been few opportunities for any intervention in an industry whose structure was largely inherited from a succession of United Party and National Party governments ready to serve the interests of the production sector at the expense of consumers. Without a doubt the best chance presented itself with the acquisition by AB InBev of SABMiller in 2016. Instead, in exchange for undertakings by the group that employment numbers would be stable for five years; that there would be no forced reductions of staff ; and that unionised employees would not be offered voluntary packages for five years, the Competiti...

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