On 18 September 2022, the Competition Tribunal of South Africa ordered that bank accounts of the Sekunjalo Group of Companies should remain open after closure by some banks, and imminent closure by others. The reason the various banks were closing the accounts of Sekunjalo was because of reputational risk associated to findings of a commission, which implicated them in wrongdoing with the Public Investment Corporation.
The Competition Tribunal granted this relief after Dr Iqbal Survé and 35 other applicants approached it, arguing that the closing of its accounts and restricting of payments amounts to “abuse of dominance and collusive conduct in contravention of the Competition Act”.
Contrast this to a growing number of stories of individuals who have been banned from Airbnb, YouTube or other online services, without understanding why they have been banned, and having no way to appeal such a judgement through an independent arbitrator such as a court of law or other appropriate institution. Some have woken up one morning and had their Airbnb accounts suspended because of an unquestioned complaint from a host. Others YouTubers have had their videos taken down and accounts suspended because they violated a supposedly universalised moral code formed thousands of kilometres from them. And the individuals who have suffered loss of income or loss of services like accommodation have no recourse, as the services they use are provided by companies incorporated in jurisdictions not easily accessible.
The local legal and institutional framework provides ways to mediate the relationships yourself and a service provider. If there is a perceived violation by a party, whatever the size, the David has a stone in the sling of a jurisdiction’s institutions to face the bullying of a Goliath. Someone sitting in East Coast town of Mtubatuba in South Africa doesn’t have such recourse against a company in the West Coast city of San Francisco in USA. Not only does using local services give one access to legal recourse, but also to legal formation through the public comments of bills passed through parliament, and lobbying for local representatives to sponsor new bills.
A second reason to use local services is so that they can grow. Outside the cash flush markets of Europe and USA where one can get millions of an internationally traded currency from a PowerPoint presentation, smaller markets have to rely on paying customers (or paid for customers in the case of advertising businesses). They may not be as advanced as they cannot afford hundreds of developers, UX specialists, content writers, marketers etc. Likewise, they may not have as many features. But the only way they can reach the maturity and compete with more well-funded markets is through a loyal paying following committed to their success.
Lastly, local services should be used for the development of the local market and economy. In years gone by, territories competed and grew based on the size of their armies. Today, they compete and grow based on the size and maturity of their economies. Using local services keeps money within the economy, allowing more to go towards the development of further businesses and products, as opposed to being shipped off to the metropoles from the various modern day colonial outposts.