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'Broaden scope of Consumer Protection Bill'

Zimbabwe should broaden its draft consumer protection legislation in view of the changing nature businesses to avoid extensive amendments, a South African consumer protection expert has said.

Speaking at a Consumer Protection Bill National Conference in Harare on Wednesday, commissioner with South Africa's National Consumer Commission (NCC) Ebrahim Mohamed said Zimbabwe's consumer protection bill still requires a lot of amendments before being passed into law.

"In drafting the consumer protection legislation it is vital for Government to examine its own situation as was done in South Africa which include local surveys, domestic constitution and legislative framework, international protocols, regional protocols and international benchmarking including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development," said Mohamed.

He said the Zimbabwean draft legislation is prescriptive. And that consideration should be given to the inclusion of enabling clauses in order to avoid continuous amendments as and when business models change.

"Therefore it is recommended that Zimbabwe commence with a little more than what is contained in its draft legislation," he said.

Meanwhile, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) national chairman Phillip Bvumbe told the same conference that what is left now is to address the "technical aspects" of the Bill before submitting it to Government for approval.

"We are now coming up with the technical aspects of the Bill meaning we are compiling all the information which we were given by consumers and business experts filling all the gaps to suit our consumers," he said.

To date, the CCZ has held consultation meetings in all the country's eight provinces to come up with different views of people on the Bill.

Yesterday's was last national consultative meeting. "During the public consultation process and reflective of a general concern of the issues pertaining to quality and safety were echoed consistently the deteriorating standards in goods and service provision as well as concern for the influx of cheap imported goods some of which posed as health risks," he said.

Bvumbe also said the question of the pricing on goods and services was generally viewed as unfair and unjustifiable in most cases with there being no real link between the prices charged and the quality of the goods and services provided.

Promulgation of the Consumer Protection Bill will also result in the establishment of a Consumer Court specifically to deal with the area of enforcement which was lacking under the previous legislation.
(Inappropriate report?)

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