GOVERNMENT has appointed a seven-member Consumer Protection Commission with a mandate to protect consumers and regulate the accreditation of consumer protection advocacy groups among other key functions.
Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, announced the new appointments in a latest press statement, which follows the recent gazetting of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019.
Dr Mthokozisi Nkosi chairs the commission whose other members include Mrs Rosemary Mpofu, Mrs Nomazulu Donga, Dr Davison Gomo, Ms Ethel Hlabangana, Mr Rainess Chadoka and Ms Respina Zinyanduko.
Under the provisions of the new law, unscrupulous businesspeople 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 will be liable for prosecution.
Consumers are now 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 Consumer Protection Commission set up in the new Act.
The direct requirements for producers and retailers and the enforcement of consumer rights together apply pressure on producers to provide quality goods and services.
Dr Nzenza said the appointments were done with concurrence of His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in terms of the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act (Chapter 10:31) effective 11 March 2021.
“The Commission shall operate as an implementation mechanism of the Consumer Protection Act in line with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s mandate. Pursuant to that, the Commission is mandated to protect the consumers, regulate the accreditation of consumer protection advocacy groups, conduct alternative dispute resolution, and promote consumer awareness in collaboration with the requisite line ministries, Government departments, institutions and advocacy groups,” said Dr Nzenza.
In appointing the commissioners, the minister said the Government considered expertise, experience and capacity of the candidates.
In the past consumer interests were represented by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), which was regarded as a toothless dog as it did not have any powers to bring businesses to account.
This meant consumers always got the short end of the stick with businesses going unpunished for unprofessional and unethical behaviour.
The Government has said that the new Commission will enforce the Act through investigators and inspectors deployed across the country and will be aided by consumer advocacy organisations who, through a statutory instrument still to be crafted, will be designated to conduct conciliation and arbitration of disputes between parties.