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DEMANDING FAIRNESS: Metlhaetsile Leepile

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Media wars far from over

Jamali clings to Mmegi shares

Ignores five-year-old ruling from Competition Authority

Seven months after final submissions were made before the high court in which Metlhaetsile Leepile, one of Mmegi major shareholders, and Gabz FM sued the Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) for failure to take steps against Seyed Jamali’s company, a ruling is yet to be delivered.

The two applicants, Leepile and Gabz FM want the court to issue an order for the Authority to enforce its instruction to have businessman, Jamali, through his company Universal House (Pty) Ltd divest his 28.73 shareholding in Mmegi Investment Holdings (MIH) )Pty Ltd.

In February 2017, the Authority rejected the acquisition of these shares by Universal Group with the shares having been sold without notifying CCA.

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As the shares were already sold, CCA directed that the 28.73 shares acquired by Jamali’s company, be disposed to a person or entity with no business interests affiliated in any way with Universal House.
The decision was to be implemented within three months from the 17th of February 2017 when the CCA made the order.

However, five years on, Jamali is yet to comply with the CCA decision, a move which has compelled Leepile and Gabz FM to approach the high court to have the authority enforce its February 2017 decision.

In their final submissions before the court in March early this year, Chibanda Makgelemele & Co who represents the first applicant, Leepile, argued that the authority failed to take steps to enforce its decision.

It is said that the CCA has claimed since as far back as February 2018 that its investigation was at an advanced stage, yet more than three years later nothing has been done.

In addition, the Authority is said to have not provided the parties with copies of the valuation of the shares, which is thought to have taken place in March 2019 after CCA appointed Grant Thornton to provide a valuation of the shares.

It is on the basis of the above that the applicants want the court to issue an order to CCA to perform its statutory notice and enforce its 2017 instruction to have Jamali’s Universal House divest from MIH, an action which CCA did not contest.

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CCA had refused to approve the acquisition of the shares in MIH by Jamali on the basis that the transaction would prevent or substantially lessen competition within the private sector media in Botswana.

This is because, MIH, through Mmegi Broadcasting Corporation has shareholding in Gabz FM, a local private radio station, a direct competitor of Duma FM which is owned by Jamali.

MIH is a holding company for Dikgang Publishing Company- publishers of Mmegi and The Monitor newspapers; CBET- publishers of the Botswana Guardian and The Midweek Sun newspapers; Mmegi Publishing House; specialists in the publication of textbooks mainly for the school market; BONESA Distribution Company; and Mmegi Broadcasting Corporation.

MIH directors include Leepile who is one of the litigants, Titus Mbuya, Botswana Mine Workers Union, Monageng Mogalakwe, Burton Mguni, Changu Mannathoko, Lebang Motokwane, Modise Maphanyane, Vincent Seretse, Monageng Mogalakwe and Pako Kedisitse.

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