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New Consumer Bill,'... stop counterfeit drugs entering Zimbabwe'

by Byo24NEWS
24 Jan 2011 at 23:55hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's Consumer Protection Bill is yet to be finalised, the bill will empower the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and is aimed at breaking new grounds on consumer rights-related issues.

The Ministry of industry and Commerce yesterday confirmed that the Attorney-General's Office is currently working on the draft Bill.

The legislation would give the consumers advocacy body power to take legal action when customers' rights are violated.

It is also expected the new law would harmonise other pieces of legislation that deal with consumer issues such as the Small Claims Act and the Contracts Act.

Industry and Commerce Minister Professor Welshman Ncube said the AG's Office could complete the draft Bill soon, as they have been working on it since last year.

Minister Ncube, who is set to take over from Professor Arthur Mutambara as Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive Government, said from the AG's Office the Bill would go to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

"The principles of the Consumer Protection Act have been approved by Cabinet and the Attorney-General is now working on drafting the actual Bill before taking it to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation," he said.

"They (AG's Office) should be finishing the draft Bill as they have had it since October last year," he said.

For a long time consumers' rights have been trampled upon and the customers had no definitive legislation to cite when they decided to seek recourse.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Ms Rosemary Siyachitema said the push for a Consumer Protection Act would enable the consumer watchdog to take legal action when consumers' rights were violated.

She said CCZ had for a long time advocated the enacting of a Consumer Protection Act in keeping with Sadc protocols on consumer protection laws.

Ms Siyachitema said that in the absence of a comprehensive law that protects consumers CCZ had very little power to institute meaningful legal against offenders.

She said push for a consumer protection law has not moved at exactly the pace that CCZ desired and expressed hope the latest efforts would yield results.

"We have discussed the issue with our ministry and were told it (Bill) is now there, but how fast it will (to have the Act) we do not have control," she said.

The Act would incorporate input from institutions such as the Competition and Tariff Commission and the National Income and Pricing Commission, as the two dealt with critical issues that affect consumers.

Expectations were also that the legislation would deal with the contentious issue of dumping of substandard and expired imported products.

This became even more topical in the wake of admission by Supreme Poultry of South Africa that it was exporting recycled chickens to Zimbabwe.

Government is investigating whether other exporters of chickens to Zimbabwe were in the same habit.

There are also reports that counterfeit drugs and some nearing their dates of expiry were being smuggled into the country and sold at premium prices.

Ms Siyachitema said such issues would be well articulated in the new Consumer Protection Act, to be discussed when Cabinet reconvenes in February.

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Source - Byo24NEWS