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Draft guidelines to the COMESA Competition Regulations, 2004 were published for public comment in October 2021. The guidelines are intended to provide clarity, transparency and certainty on the policies and procedures of the COMESA Competition Commission. Based on international best practice, they address the determination of fines and administrative penalties, as well as settlement and hearing procedures.

All but four of the OECD G20 Inclusive Framework members, including South Africa, have signed an agreement that will reform the world’s tax system. Two African countries – Kenya and Nigeria – have not yet signed the agreement. The new two-pillar system will set out a reallocation of taxing rights as well as a global minimum tax rate for certain organizations. It is expected that these changes will address global tax revenue imbalances, which is expected to benefit African countries.

The Labor Court in South Africa was recently tasked with reviewing the conduct of a CCMA commissioner, whose role was to discern the appropriateness of employment-related conduct during an employment tribunal. The review court had to determine whether the commissioner had committed misconduct by acting in a manner that undermined the integrity of dispute resolution process. Such commissioners have a duty to exercise sound judgement and must behave in a way that is beyond reproach to ensure fair labor practices in South Africa.

Trade between China and Africa almost doubled between 2020 and 2021, and over the last 20 years trade between China and the region has increased twenty-fold. Challenges, such as Africa’s over-dependence on natural resources and vast lack of essential infrastructure, must still be addressed, but the African Continental Free Trade Area is gearing up to provide a further boost for all of the continent’s major trading partners.

There was a massive increase in the value of mergers and acquisitions in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in the first half of 2021. This was due, in part, to the post-pandemic boost, where deals that were delayed last year, were able to proceed in 2021. Also spurring investment in SSA was the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, strengthening relationships with Africa’s key trading partners, as well as rising demand in key industry sectors such as materials, power and energy, technology and telecommunications.

New rules dealing with South African Revenue Service client accreditation are set to streamline the customs and trade process for trading partners and allow a much more efficient and cost-effective movement of goods across South Africa’s borders. The rules, which became effective in July this year, entirely replace the old accredited client status rules under section 64E of the Customs and Excise Act, and are of interest to importers and exporters who wish to apply for accredited client status in South Africa.

The South African Reserve Bank has recently issued a directive concerning issuing and acquiring domestic card transactions. The Directive introduces regulations for all card issuers, card acquirers and domestic merchants regarding card issuing, acquiring and acceptance services for domestic card transactions. The Directive aims to ensure that the provision of domestic card payment services does not endanger the National Payment System, and for this reason, the SARB requires domestic card issuers to be domestic clearing system participants and requires that domestic merchants use local card acquirers.

Conservatively estimated, one in four women will experience sexual harassment in the workplace at some stage during their working lifespan. The personal toll on these women – and those around them who deal with the secondary effects – is immense. The psychological impact of such harassment and victimization cannot be overstated. A recent study has undertaken the mammoth task of calculating the financial cost to women who are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The findings are not only shocking but serve as a grim reminder that our quest for gender equality must incorporate actions aimed at eradicating sexual harassment as a main driver of workplace inequality.

The production of cannabis for medical and adult-use has the potential to provide new sources of taxable revenue for pandemic-stricken countries. In South Africa, legal requirements around the production and sale of cannabis for medical use are onerous, but recent legal developments indicate an attempt to further enable the cultivation and sale of the plant as a way to boost the post-COVID economy.