Espionage allegations open Pandora’s box

Industrial espionage allegations against British American Tobacco Zimbabwe (BATZ) have opened a Pandora’s box, amid revelations this has attracted the attention of the Competition and Tariffs Commission, which this week disclosed to businessdigest that there would be a formal enquiry on the goings-on at the country’s largest cigarette manufacturer.

Report by Clive Mphambela

Senior officials from the CTC, who spoke to businessdigest on condition of anonymity, said the allegations against BATZ warranted a closer look as it was possible the law could have been broken.

“As you are aware, we have taken a keen interest in the reports carried in your paper as well as others. We are now gathering evidence so that we can establish if there were material breaches of the law by BAT in the conduct of their business,” a senior CTC official said.

CTC had taken an interest in the case since the allegations against BATZ might amount to “anti-competitive behaviour” which is outlawed under the competition laws of this country.

The CTC is a statutory body which was established by the merger of the former Industry and Trade Competition Commission and the Tariff Commission. The enabling statute is the Competition Act (Chapter 14:28).

According to the CTC,  its mandate is to promote and maintain competition and fair trade in the economy of Zimbabwe through the prohibition of restrictive and unfair business and trade practices; the investigation of unfair trade practices hindering the growth of the domestic industry; and the promotion of the growth of efficient export-oriented and internationally-competitive industries within the framework of the economic policy of the country.

The CTC investigation comes hot on the heels of similar enquiries being held by other law enforcement agencies, the Criminal Investigation Department and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

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