Consumer Protection Bill now with AG
INDUSTRY and Commerce Minister, Mike Bimha, has submitted the draft Consumer Protection Bill to the Attorney General (AG)’s Office, the Financial Gazette can report.
This comes after Cabinet early this year approved the principles of the proposed Bill, which seeks to deal with consumers’ complaints and cases.
Having been submitted to the AG’s Office, the Bill will be presented in Parliament for debate before the end of the year.
Should Parliament pass the Bill, it would be sent to President Robert Mugabe’s office for assent.
Once the Bill is passed into law, it is expected to play a crucial role in promoting fair, efficient and transparent market practices for consumers.
It is expected to provide a consistent and efficient regulatory framework that fosters consumer confidence and empower consumer organisations to undertake consumer education and advocacy.
Apart from that, it is expected to enable the establishment of a fund for national consumer organisations such as those from retailers, manufacturing and the banking sector.
Once in place, government is expected to respond to consumer protection violations by way of enforcing mandatory standards, ban unsafe goods, enforce product recall systems and ban imports of unsafe goods.
Other benefits include the promotion of competitive pricing as well as provision of better consumer service.
Bimha said a consumer tribunal, which would have the sole mandate of dealing with matters arising between business and consumers, would be set up specifically to deal with the area of enforcement lacking in the current legislation.
This means those who would be found flouting the consumer law would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
The law will also help to ensure that consumer rights are enforced through promoting fair business practices and protecting consumers from unreasonable, unjust, misleading, unfair and fraudulent conduct, thereby bringing some order into the market.
“The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has been having a field day because for years, they have been saying we need a Consumer Protection Act,” Bimha said.
“And for years we have not been doing anything until now when we said we are going to do something. When I presented the principles in Cabinet (of the Bill) and got approval, the Consumer Council were so happy and we allowed them to do the stakeholders’ consultations.
“And they have been doing that and have been polishing and so on. Now I want to believe that the office of the Attorney General will soon finalise working on it.
“It’s something we want to see going to Parliament as soon as possible.”
Zimbabwe has, since independence in 1980, not had a comprehensive consumer protection law.
Instead, there have been pieces of legislation implemented through various line ministries to protect and advance the interests of consumers.
These, however, protect consumers to an certain extent and fall short of providing the cover of protection that aims at protecting consumer rights from violations, resulting in consumers being exposed.