Consumer Protection Bill set for amendment

Source: Consumer Protection Bill set for amendment | The Herald June 4, 2019

Consumer Protection Bill set for amendment
Minister Ndlovu

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has acceded to demands by parliamentarians to amend the Consumer Protection Bill so that a Consumer Protection Commission be established if the Bill is passed instead of an Agency as was earlier envisaged in the original Bill.

The amendments to the Bill were made during the second reading of the Bill in the National Assembly last week.

Parliamentarians had urged Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu to create an independent Consumer Protection Commission instead of an Agency, so that it could operate without undue influence and bureaucracy if it was to remain an agency under the ministry.

The Commission is created under Clause 4 of the Bill.

“There is hereby established a Commission to be known as the Consumer Protection Commission which shall be a body corporate capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name and performing all acts that body corporates may by law perform,” reads the amendment to the Bill.

“(5) The Commission shall consist of the Chief Executive Officer who shall be an ex-officio member and not less than seven and not more than twelve members appointed by the Minister after consultation with the President.”

The commissioners will include persons with qualifications in environment, agriculture, commerce, competition and trade, standards and quality, consumer protection, energy and law.

The composition of the Commission should show gender equality, regional balance and also include persons living with disabilities.

The minister will also appoint the chairperson and his or her deputy. The functions of the Commission shall be among others to — “(a) protect consumers from unconscionable, unreasonable, unjust or otherwise improper trade practices; as well as deceptive, misleading, unfair or fraudulent conduct; (b) conduct conciliation and arbitration between parties; (c) promote fair business practices; (d) coordinate and network consumer activities and liaise with consumer organisations and the competent authorities and agencies locally and outside Zimbabwe to protect consumer interests;(e) promote consumer confidence, awareness, empowerment, and the development of a culture of consumer responsibility, through individual and group education, vigilance, advocacy and activism.”

The Commission should also maintain a record of and publish annual reports on consumer complaints and the outcomes of any hearings, encourage and assist governmental and official organisational support to further the interests of consumers and consumer organisations and refer to the Competition Commission or any other relevant Authority any concerns regarding market share, anti-competitive behaviour or conduct that may be prohibited in terms of the Competition Act.