Consumer protection set in motion 

Source: Consumer protection set in motion | The Sunday Mail November 18, 2018

Sharon Munjenjema
GOVERNMENT is crafting a raft of measures, through the Consumer Protection Bill, to protect citizens from wanton price increases.

The bill was recently approved by the Cabinet and has now been tabled in Parliament.

Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Cde Raj Modi said, “Government is in discussions with suppliers and manufacturers to seek justification of prices. Some have responded by lowering their prices while some are holding on to stock.

“While we wait for the Consumer Protection Bill to be passed into law, efforts are underway to cushion consumers.”

Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda said the bill will be debated by the relevant portfolio committees, including the Parliament Legal Committee.

“The legal committee will look at the bill and check if it complies with the Constitution. If it offends the Constitution, it will be sent back to the Ministry (of Industry and Commerce). lf not, we will proceed to public hearings,” he said.

Statistics from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) show that the cost of living as measured by its low income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six increased from the September 2018 figure of US$604,54 to US$666,93 by end of October 2018 – an increase of $62,39.

The CCZ said prices of basic commodities have increased in recent months with rice jumping from $2,73 to $4,26 for a 2kg packet.

The price of a 10 kilogram packet of roller meal increased from $9,33 to $9,89 while flour increased by $0,45 from $2,09 to $2,54.

A brown sugar 2kg pack now costs $2,25 from $2,18. Bath soap, laundry bar and washing powder also recorded price increases.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said retailers are buying goods from manufacturers at increased prices.

“They (manufacturers) are citing several reasons such as rising costs of production, especially packaging,” he said.

“However, we are happy because consumers are no longer in a panic buying mode. This will lead to price reduction.”

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said, “The RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) releases foreign currency on 14 basic commodities to maintain price stability. Some locally produced commodities have imported components, so if we add packaging costs, prices of goods automatically increases.”

Government recently introduced a price monitoring system along the production value chain from manufacturers to retailers in a move meant to cushion consumers from unjustified price increases.