Standards body to seize shoddy products

Source: Standards body to seize shoddy products | The Herald July 7, 2017

Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Quality Standards Regulatory Authority, a new standards body Government is working on, will have power to confiscate products falling short of set benchmarks.

Standards Association of Zimbabwe certification director Sebastian Zuze said Government was working on a standards regulatory authority because it was critical for local industry to be competitive globally and to produce quality products.

This comes amid revelations that a number of local companies, especially in construction, were providing substandard products and service, which riled consumers.

Mr Zuze said a regulatory authority was fundamental for Zimbabwe to comply with international norms on trade, and so the initiative by Government was not designed to punish industry, but to make sure its products met expectations of consumers.

“Having noted that industry are not taking these issues of standards seriously , the Government has put in place a regulatory authority, which is the Zimbabwe Quality Standards Regulatory Authority,” Mr Zuze said.

SAZ will remain in place.

“The Standards Association of Zimbabwe will remain there in its role as facilitator of development of Standards. However, this standards authority will have the power to enforce (minimum quality) standards as a regulator,” Mr Zuze said.

“The major highlight of the Bill is that if goods do not comply, they can be confiscated and disposed of. The regulatory authority, unlike other bodies which just say your goods do not comply, will have authority to confiscate and dispose.”

Mr Zuze said the Bill had provisions that provided for protection of consumer rights.

This authority is being set up through an Act of Parliament with the process now at an advanced level, Bill stage, spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

“What is important is for industry to get hold of the draft Bill and understand the compliance issues arising from this Bill so that they are more proactive and become compliant (in advance) so that it is not seen as a barrier to trade,” he said.

Mr Zuze said local industry played second fiddle to imports because the foreign producers followed specific standards that guaranteed efficiency and high quality.

“We are not doing well (in terms of competitiveness) because we are not doing it the best way. Standards mean you are looking at the best way of doing something.

“Those countries which are more competitive than us, if you look at the heart of what they doing, they use standards. The look at the best way of managing energy, best way to utilise labour, best way to achieve efficiencies and effectiveness in their operations, which elements contained in standards,” he said.

The SAZ certification director said that many countries had standards regulators and cases in point were neighbouring South Africa and Kenya in East Africa.

“We actually have been behind in enforcing standards. Other countries have regulatory bodies, which work closely with industry. Industry should participate and work with SAZ, as a developer and facilitator of standards,” he said.

Mr Zuze said local industry was being consulted for its input in the current process to establish a regulatory board that will compel adherence to set benchmarks.

He said, generally, the interest and adoption of set standards in Zimbabwe was growing. This was on the back of initiatives by SAZ to raise awareness in local firms.

However, there is concern that small to medium enterprises regarded the need to comply with minimum standards as a preserve for the bigger companies. For instance, only 200 local companies are certified to the quality management standard.