CCZ lobbies for Consumer Protection Act

HARARE - The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has called on government to adopt the Consumer Protection Draft Bill into law.

This call comes as the world is celebrating consumer rights day.

The Bill is expected to deal with substandard goods flooding Zimbabwe and unfair prices, but four years have passed before the bill has been passed into law.

Rosemary Siyachitema, the consumer protection board’s executive director said there is need for legislation to moderate the exploitative relationship currently existing between businesses and consumers.

“We are saying to the responsible ministry (Industry), do your job. We are already in March and Parliament is in session. It looks like the ministry is currently pushing businesses issues without protecting the consumers.

“That is a big mistake. Businesses do not operate in isolation, they are not islands,” Siyachitema told the Daily News yesterday.

She added; “We want a law that criminalises business practices that prejudice consumers.

“National Incomes and Pricing Commission is a cheaper muscle. Right now we have poor corporate governance from Cape to Cairo where we have people giving themselves absurd salaries at the expense of service provision.

“We are disgusted as consumers. We have scandals in health, you (government) tell us you are setting up a commission of inquiry where more money will be spent but no results. Consumers are tired of hearing about these commissions of omissions.”

Media has off late been exposing scandals involving heads of parastatals awarding themselves huge salaries at the expense of service delivery.

Though medical costs are on the high, services within the sector remain unsatisfactory. On the other hand “unhealthy”

genetically-modified products have flooded the market, putting the ignorant population at risk.

“But why is it that our businesses are quick to talk about how such products are detrimental to health whenever there is competition? I have never heard anyone who has evidence from the government laboratory so they should just make sure their products are equally competitive,” she said.

Siyachitema said her organisation was ill-equipped to deal with rampant violations of consumer rights by business.

“We are a country of 13 million consumers who should be served by 19 CCZ staff members shared between Harare, Masvingo, Gweru, Mutare and Bulawayo and using cars which are all over six years old.

“In this financial year’s budget we got $100 000, only enough to cover salaries and overheads. When people are serious, they give you the mandate and enough resources,” she said.

South Africa’s Consumer Protection Act led to the creation of a fund where businesses and banks contribute towards the upholding of customer rights. 

According to Siyachitema, revenue to fund operations of the consumer body is also realised from fines paid by consumer offenders.

This year’s Consumer Rights day is being commemorated under the theme is “Fix Our Phone Rights”

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