by Ngonidzashe Chiutsi of the Sunday News
THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe will this week start public consultation meetings on the Consumer Protection Bill where people are expected to air their input before the bill is passed into law.The Government has just drafted and launched a Consumer Protection Bill which seeks to establish the Consumer Protection Commission, whose functions are to promote fair business practices and protect consumers from unreasonable, unjust improper trade practices, deceptive, misleading, unfair and fraudulent conduct.
In an interview with Sunday Business, CCZ regional manager Mr Comfort Muchekeza said they were going to hold two public meetings in Bulawayo and Gwanda this week.
"We are having two meetings in Matabeleland and one will be held on 18 November in Bulawayo city and another on 20 November in Gwanda where the consumers should air their views before the bill is passed into law," said Mr Muchekeza.
He said they would have wanted to hold another public meeting in Matabeleland North but failed due to financial constraints.
The CCZ official said the issues to be discussed at the meetings were related to consumer issues such as the universal consumer rights.
"We have been lobbying for this law for quite a long time. We have hard copies and the electronic copies of the bill which we have distributed to the consumers so that they can go through and know what is inside so that they can make additions and subtractions from the bill," said Mr Muchekeza.
Buy Zimbabwe business development executive Mr Alois Burutsa said the Consumer Protection Bill should be quickly promulgated into law and protect consumers who are exposed to the wrath of the predatory market.
"As Buy Zimbabwe we are fully behind the Consumer Protection Bill. What used to happen was that goods were just brought into the country no matter the quality and no matter the health hazards they pose. Everything was just coming into Zimbabwe," said Mr Burutsa.
He said other countries had tight laws that protect consumers from unscrupulous business people.
"In South Africa you cannot just bring goods into the country. You need the certification on the quality of the product. We feel it is about time we put these protective measures so that we don't allow substandard products into the country and affect our own local goods because we are forced to compete against uncompetitive products and very poor quality products that are just being allowed into the country," said the official.
The Consumer Protection Bill also seeks to improve consumer awareness, information and encourage responsible and informed consumer choice and behaviour.
The Bill, if passed into law will result in the establishment of a Consumer Court and a Consumer Protection Commission.
The new law will result in consumers being empowered by the establishment of a Consumer Court and a Consumer Protection Commission.
The Consumer Court shall be a special court for the purpose of enforcing rights and serve as a court of record.
After the consultations are done in Matabeleland, similar meetings will be carried out across the country in places such as Gweru and Masvingo.