HARARE — Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday launched a new law to protect consumers of goods and services from unfair trading practices and regulate consumer advocacy organizations.
The Consumer Protection Act establishes the Consumer Protection Commission whose functions will be centered on the protection of consumers from unjust, unreasonable, improper and unacceptable, deceptive, unfair and fraudulent conduct and trading practices. The agency shall also promote fair business practices by coordinating and networking consumer activities with consumers and consumer organizations, and protect consumer interests.
Zimbabweans have hitherto been largely protected by consumer watchdog the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), but many felt that it did not have the legal clout to stop businesses from profiteering and unfair tendencies. Apart from mere profiteering, some businesses either manufacture or import sub-standard goods with limited or no warranty. The new law therefore provides for the consumers’ right to consumer education which includes environmental impacts, benefits, costs and hazards among other areas; and for the right to fair value, good quality and safety of goods and services. It further provides redress to the consumer when a violation occurs.
The law also places liability on suppliers, producers and importers to be responsible for disposal of goods, components, remnants, containers or packaging into a common waste collection system. Launching the new law, Mnangagwa said robust consumer protection laws were an important aspect of the economic development agenda that his government was pursuing. “As we accelerate programs to modernize and industrialize our country for sustainable economic growth, the enactment of the Act was timely. It takes a holistic and forward-looking approach to ensure that industry offers cutting edge products and vibrant services to society while inspiring creativity and innovation,” he said.
“As our economy grows, it is vital for our consumers to hold the market accountable for its actions or omissions,” he said.
Mnangagwa added that in the quest to produce excellent services and quality goods, there was also need for a rapid alert system to flag undesirable and hazardous goods and services. “The law is not an end in itself, hence mechanisms and frameworks provided in the Act must be harnessed to entrench good governance in the administration of consumer related issues,” he said. “In line with the need to entrench participatory governance and the promotion of the rights of our people, consumer protection advocacy groups should be more visible towards promoting constructive sectoral engagements and dialogue,” he said. CCZ executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said on social media that the launch of the new law was “a real cause for celebration by CCZ and all consumers”.