THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) says it is failing to operate effectively due to lack of the necessary legal muscle to deal with unscrupulous manufacturers and producers.
In an interview with businessdigest, CCZ executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said her organisation was lacking legal instruments which would enable it to be more aggressive in implementing pro-consumer policies.
She said it was now incumbent upon the consumer watchdog to engage “relevant authorities” such as the Ministry of International Trade and the Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to gain some legal muscle.
“The question of us having no legal muscle is not a question for people to ask,” she said. “CCZ has a general mandate to fulfil, which is to provide consumer information and education so that consumers are able to discern what’s to their advantage or disadvantage. That is the fundamental question.”
Siyachitema went on to make the disclosure: “We can’t all have power. As CCZ we don’t have a final policy-making muscle. The Ministry of International Trade is the final authority and all we can do is feed them with information.”
The CCZ would seek a pivotal and instrumental role in the proposed Incomes and Pricing Commission, which will make decisions on price movements and preside over the costing of all goods.
The consumer pressure group would also seek an influential role in the small claims court, as has been done by India and Malaysia who manage similar institutions.
The CCZ revelations come hard on the heels of the consumer basket for a family of six ballooning from $9,6 million in September to a staggering $11,6 million last month, representing a 20,9 percentage increase.
Since the start of the economic meltdown, consumers have had to dig deep into their pockets to make ends meet as the battle for economic survival rages on.
Consumers have also been at the receiving end of government and industry skirmishes over price controls which resulted in foodstuffs disappearing from retail shops owing to sub-economic prices.