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Consumer activism is too weak in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has for a long time suffered from the challenge of anemic consumer bodies.

Typically lobbyists seek to protect the general public or the constituents whom they represent against such concerns as profiteering, disease, unemployment, and market fluctuations among others.

Goals include making goods and services available to consumers safer, better quality, environmentally friendly, and more readily available.

And consumer activist tactics can include boycotts, petitioning the government, media activism, and organising interest groups.

But this has not been the case, with the particular case of the "tooth-less" Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) being raised as the quintessential example.

Businesses typically exist to satisfy the interests of its owners, as shareholders, the management, employees and the consumers, and it's only realistic to assume that there is general lack of balance in the treatment of these various interests by the business organisations.

But the disharmony cannot be ignored when it is largely skewed in disfavour of the consumers.

There is definite need to improve lobbyism in the country insofar as some decisions by companies and public service providers were detrimental to the health of the local economy.

Because to the extent that we improve lobbyism in the country it means our value proposition improves, and so too does our competitiveness as a country.

A lot of Zimbabwean customers tend to be prejudiced or short-changed by some dubious businesses and organisations and yet we see nothing being done to the offending party.

In other countries effective lobby groups quickly calculate the cost(s) of such behaviour and/or anticipated or actual loss of business and make this well known.

But not here in Zimbabwe!!!

It is to the extent of weak consumer and business activism in the country, that players such as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) can implement near-unilateral tariff adjustments within a short time space (as has happened in recent years), while a similar move in other countries even in the region tends to be accompanied by extensively consultative and time-consuming.

Additionally despite CCZ’s continued voicing of concerns over unjustified price increases for basic commodities, a review of some household commodities shows that there has been a lot of stealth pricing.

Maybe it is due to the fact that the statutes that brought the CCZ - for example - into existence did not grant such bodies the requisite powers.

If then the law is the problem here, legislators should begin to push for adjustments in laws that brought about these statutory regulatory bodies to give them "more bite".

BH24
(Inappropriate report?)

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