Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says the government is happy that giant US retailer Walmart has chosen South Africa as an investment destination.

Despite his assurance to Parliament on Wednesday, the government appears to have no unified position on Walmart.

Mr Motlanthe made no mention of the three Cabinet ministers who had appealed against a regulatory decision in a bid to have stronger conditions set for the R16,5bn merger of Walmart with local retailer Massmart.

Answering a question in the National Assembly, Mr Motlanthe said: "The point is that they have gone through everything. They have done a very thorough assessment, they have been through the Competition Tribunal and they were given the thumbs-up.

"What they (Walmart) are saying is that all investors must come to South Africa. We agree (with Walmart) and are very happy this is what they have done."

The question posed to Mr Motlanthe was from Congress of the People MP Juli Kilian, who asked about the 70% decline in foreign direct investment in South Africa from 2009 to 2010; and what Mr Motlanthe thought of the fact that Angola consumed 20% of all foreign investment into Africa.

Ms Kilian pointed out that research by the University of Johannesburg discovered that South Africa ranked 128th in the world as an investment destination. Countries similar to South Africa, such as Chile and Indonesia, ranked 19th and 20th.

She also asked whether Mr Motlanthe agreed that sustainable jobs should be created for the poor.

Addressing the foreign direct investment question, Mr Motlanthe used Walmart's arrival in South Africa as an example.

He praised Walmart for its investment and for the fact that it had conducted a country assessment. "This means that no other American company needs to do such an assessment," Mr Motlanthe said.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson's joint application to the Competition Appeals Court supported trade union demands to have the approval for the Walmart-Massmart deal reversed.

In their application the ministers claimed Walmart's entry into South Africa would lead to a loss of manufacturing capability and threaten food security.

The Competition Appeals Court heard the case last month and has not yet made its ruling.

I-NET BRIDGE