2 000 businesses prosecuted  for cheating customers Mr Ben Blatch United Refineries general manager (left) and Mr Davis Muhambi Chairman SMMAZ

Sikhulekelani Moyo, [email protected]

ABOUT 2 000 businesses have been prosecuted by the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) for short-changing consumers since last year as Government tightens screws to curb the trading of underweight and counterfeit products.

The CPC was established under the Consumer Protection Act Chapter 14:14 (No. 5 of 2019), which became law on 10 December 2019 and is administered by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Its main function is to protect consumers, regulate the accreditation of consumer protection advocacy groups, conduct alternative dispute resolution and promote consumer awareness in collaboration with the relevant line ministries, Government departments, institutions and advocacy groups.

The commission brings to book unscrupulous business people that engage in unfair practices that include multi-tier pricing, fraudulent offers, failure to label products properly and the disclosure of consumers’ personal information to third parties.

Under the new regulations, consumers are entitled to be fully refunded for defective or sub-standard goods and can individually approach the courts for redress or refer their complaints to the Commission.

Yesterday, Small Maize Millers Association of Zimbabwe (SMMAZ) held a meeting with key stakeholders in Bulawayo to address the problem of unethical business behaviour by some players who sell underweight and counterfeit products.

Speaking after the meeting, CPC senior investigations officer, Mr Jefious Sibanda said more than 1 900 businesses have been prosecuted for discrepancies.

“As a commission, we enforce the Consumer Protection Act, which says every consumer has got rights to fair value, quality goods and services. When there is a proliferation of counterfeit goods, it means there will be no fair value to the customers. As a commission, we have been active since last year and we have facilitated close to 2  000 prosecutions related to contravention of the Act,” said Mr Sibanda.

SMMAZ chairman, Mr Davis Muhambi, said those who pack underweight products were bogus players who seek to make profit through cheating consumers.

“It’s not a problem affecting millers only but the whole industry. It requires us to come together as an industry to understand what is happening, come up with resolutions and solutions to the problems,” he said.

Mr Muhambi said the genuine milling businesses should self-regulate and uphold business ethics to gain market confidence.

The meeting was attended by officials from different milling companies, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce as well as representatives from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

Mr Muhambi said they will be working with retailers as they are the ones who distribute different products to the market. —@SikhulekelaniM1

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