BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Marondera residents have called on authorities to come up with an effective price control system, saying the current situation of price hikes has resulted in the suffering of citizens.
This was revealed during a public hearing by the Joshua Sacco-led Industry and Commerce Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on the Consumer Protection Bill held in Marondera.
The Bill seeks to protect the consumer by establishing the Consumer Protection Agency as well as to regulate consumer advocacy organisations.
It will also repeal the Consumer Contracts Act (Chapter 8:03) and provide for matters connected to issues of consumer protection.
Participants during the public hearing said the Bill came at a time when consumers were suffering due to the three-tier pricing system.
“The Bill has come late as we are already being abused. We have a three-tier pricing system and this is very confusing. We need to have a clear pricing system that is fair to every person,” one resident said.
“We are being forced to buy uniforms at schools at exorbitant prices. Why? Some of us are tailors and can make a uniform for my child, but school authorities are forcing us to buy sub-standard uniforms at high prices. Schools are stealing from us.”
Another resident said authorities should monitor foreign shop owners who were not accepting local currency and mobile money.
“We are disappointed by what some foreign shop owners in the fabric industry are doing. They are rejecting coins or bond notes, preferring hard currency. As consumers, this is a burden to us, we need these shop owners to be punished,” said the resident.
“There are no price controls in some retail shops, who are profiteering on locally-manufactured goods like cooking oil.”
Other key issues that were raised at the meeting include the current situation obtaining in the public transport system, where operators are charging exorbitant fares, especially during peak hours.
Consumers also called upon the government to monitor fuel dealers selling fuel on the black market.
In its quest to protect consumers, clause 16 of the Bill speaks to the safety of goods and their recall.
It reads: “In addition, the authority shall promote the development of mechanisms to allow consumer complaints, reports and violations reported, received, and investigated to be conducted. These will in turn provide for the return, repair or recalling of such goods consumers are exposed to.”
In clause 19 the Bill proposes to give consumers the right to choose goods or services without undue pressure and the right to reject or return goods within a reasonable time.
Clause 20 also gives consumers the right to select their suppliers.