BY NIZBERT MOYO
BULAWAYO residents yesterday called on government to formulate policies that give residents’ associations arresting and price-monitoring powers as Parliament crafts the Consumer Protection Bill.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce yesterday conducted a consultative meeting at the Large City Hall to gather views on the Consumer Protection Bill, amid concerns that consumers were vulnerable to unscrupulous businesspeople, who go unpunished when they violate their rights.
Bulawayo United Residents’ Association chairperson, Winos Dube told the committee that in order for the Bill to be effective, there should be a policy that gives residents’ associations powers to monitor prices and cause the removal of expired goods from shop shelves.
“Associations should be given arresting powers, the Bill will not be effective if there is no monitoring system,” he said.
Dube raised concern over poor customer service at banks and fuel stations, adding that people were wasting valuable production time in queues because employees were not being monitored.
Dube said even at banks or fuel stations attendants take unnecessary breaks, subjecting consumers to frustrations.
Residents also raised concern over lack of consumer protection in funeral and medical aid services.
They said service providers were profiteering by demanding shortfalls when members seek medical assistance, rendering medical insurance useless.
The residents also expressed dissatisfaction with telecommunications service providers, accusing them of short-changing them.
However, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce, Sonny Mguni said the government was aware that consumers were being shortchanged by service providers.
He said, for example, currently, consumers have no right to return goods that do not match the required standard after buying them. Some shops are informing consumers that they do not accept returns or refund for substandard goods.