Tawanda Musarurwa Senior Reporter
Consumer protection is set to take a whole new picture in Zimbabwe, with the Consumer Protection Bill now only awaiting Presidential Assent.
The proposed Consumer Protection Bill seeks to enhance and ensure that consumers have a strong legal recourse in cases where they feel abused by businesses.
Addressing delegates at the National Customer Experience and Service Delivery Symposium recently, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, said the proposed law comes at a time when levels of customer satisfaction in most sectors of the economy are at a low ebb.
“The Consumer Protection Bill that seeks to protect consumers has passed through Parliament and is awaiting Presidential Assent. When signed into law, the Consumer Protection Bill will protect the consumer of goods and services by ensuring a fair, efficient, sustainable and transparent marketplace for consumers and business,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“This legal statute will therefore empower the consumer to make rational decisions.”
Promulgation of the Consumer Protection Bill will also provide for the establishment and functions of the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), whose principal role is to protect the rights of consumers.
The functions of the CPA will be centred on the protection of consumers from unjust, unreasonable, improper and unacceptable, deceptive, unfair and fraudulent trading practices.
The agency shall also promote fair business practices by coordinating and networking consumer activities with consumers vis-à-vis consumer organisations and protection of consumer interests.
It will also promote consumer awareness and empowerment by referring and appearing before any court.
The Industry Minister, however, said the issue of good customer service was one that businesses need to take serious in view of the benefits that can accrue to them.
“A consumer who will not get satisfaction from any services provided will likely seek for alternative suppliers thus negatively affect demand of your products.
“High levels of customer satisfaction are important to businesses as consumers play a key role in increasing demand for goods and services, thereby contributing to the growth of entities,” he said.
“With the economic challenges faced by almost all sectors of the economy it is important that we strive to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction if we are to grow our businesses.”
During the event, organisers the Chartered Institute of Customer Management (CICM), also launched the latest edition of the National Customer Satisfaction Index, which showed that Zimbabwe had an overall customer satisfaction rating of 63,1 percent, down from 67,1 percent last year.
“National Customer Satisfaction Index dovetails with the country’s Vision 2030 of achieving an Upper Middle Income Country Status.
“The national vision can only be realised when our service delivery is world class.
“Customer experience is not a random phenomenon but a vital function that require constant focus, leadership commitment, scientific strategy and involvement of everyone within an organisation to give no room for a breakdown in overall customer experience,” added Minister Ndlovu.