The South African Competition Tribunal has agreed to postpone the hearing on Wal-Mart’s planned takeover of local retailer Massmart until May.

Earlier today (22 March), the Tribunal had set a deadline for the hearing of 14 April, despite government trade departments claiming that they would be unable to prepare submissions for such an early date.

However, proceedings now look set to go ahead on 9 May after the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (SACCAWU) argued that an earlier hearing would prejudice its ability to cross-examine witnesses. The union claimed that without extra information from government submissions its ability to examine witnesses would be diminished.

“This is good news for us… We are satisfied that this extension will allow the hearing to be a fairer reflection of the situation and the arguments for and against the deal,” a spokesperson for the union told just-food.

The SACCAWU spokesperson added that the union opposes the deal on the basis of Wal-Mart’s reputation for its opposition to organised labour and insisted that the entry of Wal-Mart into the market is not “in the best interests of South Africa”.

The Tribunal – which has the final say on Wal-Mart’s proposed US$2.3bn offer to acquire 51% of the South African retailer – is then required to publish a decision within ten days of the hearing.

Massmart declined to comment on the news, while Wal-Mart was not immediately available for comment.