We haven’t failed on our mandate: Consumer council

09 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
We haven’t failed on our mandate: Consumer council

Your Money, Your Call

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba

ON May 26, 2024, I wrote an article titled “Consumer council now a whimpering toothless bulldog”, which shed some light on the inefficiencies of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ). I highlighted gaps that consumers, myself included, felt need to be addressed. This week, we publish CCZ executive director Rosemary Mpofu’s response to the article. Feel free to share your thoughts on this and any other consumer-related issues. Read on . . .


CCZ response:

CCZ wishes to clarify a few inaccuracies for the benefit of our consumers.

CCZ is not the only player in the consumer protection space in Zimbabwe.

However, we acknowledge the recognition that consumers have given us owing to our many years of consumer advocacy in the country.

We noted in the media article that the CCZ was portrayed as having failed to execute its mandate, with the proliferation of counterfeit and underweight products cited as being among the consumer concerns, and that we have remained silent amid the said issues, and also the alleged failure to put in place redress mechanisms for consumers to derive value for money, as cited in the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), Chapter 14:44.

Section 10 of the CPA gives consumers the right to fair value, good quality and safety of goods and services.

Section 9 of the CPA refers to consumers’ right to consumer education and awareness, which encompasses product hazards, labelling, redress mechanisms, information on weights, measures, prices and quality.

As CCZ, we have been conducting a number of education and awareness programmes using various platforms such as the media, both traditional and digital, and also through partnerships with key stakeholders. Among these are the regulators; law-enforcement agents; and Consumer Action Club members, who are our focal persons at grassroots level.

CCZ has conducted factory visits, in partnership with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s Quality Assurance and Trade Measures Department.

Factory visits are done periodically to assize scales, to carry out random sampling of products to ascertain if they adhere to stipulated weights and measurements, with those found to be either underweight or overweight removed from shelves.

Corporates or traders found wanting, in this regard, have been penalised, while periodic blitzes with the sector regulator (Consumer Protection Commission), the police and local authorities have been ongoing, targeting those selling counterfeit and expired products, with the offenders being fined various amounts depending on the value of the goods.

As captured in your opinion piece, CCZ traces its noble cause of protecting and empowering consumers back to 1955, when two prominent women groups based in Bulawayo advocated quality products and standards, and that principle has remained our Bible as we execute our mandate.

CCZ has been advocating harmonisation of consumer protection legislation. Previously, we relied on fragmented legislation that did not fully protect consumers, resulting in the council lobbying intensely and, at some point, petitioning Parliament for a comprehensive Act. Fortunately, the Act was assented to by President Mnangagwa on December 14, 2019.

CCZ lobbied for a comprehensive Consumer Protection Act, which included an enforcement body, the Consumer Protection Commission, which would assume the regulatory role of policing and enforcement of the Act, including issuance of compliance notices to all who go against the law.

In terms of Section 55 of the CPA, one of CCZ’s role is that of conciliation and arbitration; therefore, we believe we have not failed on our mandate in relation to the Act.

It is of importance that every Zimbabwean citizen be aware of the provisions of the CPA as it stipulates the separate functions of other consumer bodies, including the Consumer Protection Commission, as some of the issues raised do not fall under CCZ’s mandate.

But we acknowledge that more still needs to be done by all parties in empowering consumers with knowledge on their rights, as provided for by the CPA.

The CCZ remains committed to performing its roles as spelt out in the new Act, as it has been doing for the last 69 years, leaving behind a legacy and institutional memory that consumers are proud to associate with, having lobbied for consumer protection to be part of the school syllabus from primary school up to the tertiary level.

CCZ will soon launch an academy with the University of Zimbabwe to train both consumers and industry on provisions of the Act, from certificate to higher diploma level. This comes after having realised the need to empower and capacitate every consumer in the market.

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing consultant with a strong passion for customer experience. For comments, suggestions and training, she can be reached at: [email protected] or +263712979461, 0719978335, 0772978335.


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