New law boosts consumer rights

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WHILE the new Consumer Protection Act is critical in safeguarding the rights of Zimbabweans, it will not achieve all its noble objectives if there is no collaborative effort among stakeholders, a top government official has said.
Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza also told a discussion forum in Harare yesterday that the new Act was not meant to punish the business community, but to promote excellent customer service, production of high quality goods, as well as healthy competition within the business sector.
The forum on the new consumer law was organised by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) in conjunction with Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) — publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.
“Due to our current economic situation, we have products coming into the country without being investigated or checked to see if they have negative health implications.
“We also have businesses that are producing sub-standard goods.
“What we are trying to achieve through this Act is to have a situation where consumers are protected from such things, while promoting healthy competition and quality production in the industrial sector,” Nzenza said.
She added that the Act would require a collaborative effort from all sectors in order to fulfil its mandate of protecting and promoting consumer rights.
CCZ president, Philip Bvumbe, said political will was critical to ensure that the new Act would be applied fully, credibly and transparently.
“The problems that we experience in our country, be it in the business sector or other sectors, are not as a result of lack of laws, but lack of political will.
“We cannot deny that politics in Zimbabwe is inter-twined with various things, including laws — and as such it is important for political actors to be on board and in full support of the Act.
“Without that kind of political will, the Act becomes just another piece of legislation with good intentions, but difficult to implement,” Bvumbe said.
He also implored citizens to gain as much information and knowledge about the Act, as well as their rights as consumers — to avoid being taken advantage of by others.
“The law is the law. It applies even to powerful politicians … I’m encouraging consumers not to give up if they have a case, to be assertive and know what they want because we now have an Act which is meant to protect them,” Bvumbe said.
Industrialist Kumbirai Katsande said the government could, in support of the new Act, ensure that consumer rights were displayed visibly in retail stores — to assist consumers to access their rights.
Among other things, the Consumer Protection Act is underpinned by the principles of equity, accessibility, market integrity, transparency, competitiveness, removing practices that limit consumer choice and the empowerment of consumers.

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