Saturday, 3 March 2018


Cabinet has approved legislative principles to guard the pubic against wanton price increases by fining businesses that unethically cost goods and services.

The Consumer Protection Draft Bill is now before the Cabinet Committee on Legislation, after which it can be introduced for debate and subsequent adoption by Parliament before the President signs it into law.

Zimbabweans have for more than a decade been subjected to price distortions where goods and services are priced two to four-fold those obtaining elsewhere in Southern Africa. The situation has been compounded by shortages in foreign currency and local hard cash and attempts to offset this by promoting electronic transactions has resulted in creation of multiple pricing tiers.

Now, Government wants to use the law to deal with manufacturers, retailers and service providers who hike prices without justification.

The proposed law, a reaction by authorities against unethical profiteering by some businesspeople, is part of Government’s 100 day plan of action to reign in on the menace.
Consumer protection laws, the world over, are meant to promote a fair, efficient and transparent marketplace.

The Sunday Mail understands that the law will empower the consumer protection watchdog to impose fines.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha said, “One of our targets is the enactment of a Consumer Protection Act. We want to create a law for consumer protection like most countries have done.

“The law will empower the Consumer Council (of Zimbabwe) to take certain action where appropriate; for example at the moment when there are unwarranted price increases the Consumer Council has no power to do anything; the best they can do is just complain about that and it ends there.

“But when we have an Act, it gives teeth to the Consumer Council to make sure there are no unfair business practices and unjustified price increases. We have been working on this Bill and it now awaits the process of being tabled in Parliament.

“The principles have already been approved in Cabinet and a lot of work has already been done, outreach programmes have been carried out. What we are waiting is for the Bill to go through the Cabinet Committee on Legislation once that is done, it doesn’t take time to go through Cabinet, and we will forward it to Parliament.
“What we need is to speed it up because it is something that we think we need in order to move along with the rest of the world.”

Last year Government set up a special Cabinet Committee to get to the bottom of nefarious parallel market activities and eliminate disparities in basic commodity pricing.

Minister Bimha said “The Cabinet Committee is still there; at first it was an ad-hoc but was given a green light to continue. But in so doing, we also have to work with the National Competitiveness Commission.

“One of its functions is to assist us in monitoring price trends and establishing specifics on how a manufacturer gets to peg or set the final price. When you determine prices ordinarily you look at your costs then apply your mark-up it gives the price.”

Currently, consumer rights are handled by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, which has no legal power to protect people’s rights. Sunday Mail 


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