Consumers in the country have come together to form an association, the National Consumer Rights Association (NACORA) aimed at empowering and upholding consumer rights.
The association has been necessitated by the constant violation of consumer rights manifested in unscrupulous price hikes and the provision of substandard goods and services.
NACORA official launch coincided with the Consumer Rights Day commemorations.
Addressing the media, Thursday, NACORA coordinator Micheal Ndiweni decried the abuse faced by consumers due to ignorance of their rights.
Ndiweni said NACORA aims at bringing to an end the trashing and violating of consumer rights in the country.
“With this launch, the era of trashing and violating consumer rights with impunity in Zimbabwe has come to an end. Henceforth consumer rights are mainstream human rights and they will be promoted, protected and defended without fear or favour,” said Ndiweni.
He noted with concern that while everyone is a consumer at some point, their rights are either ignored or side-lined to the peripheries of the struggles for human rights.
“NACORA seeks to promote, protect and defend consumers of all public and private sector goods and services in order to eradicate injustices, abuses and unfairness against the consumer. This organisation comes at an opportune and strategic time when the pain and strain of being denied rights as a consumer is being felt right across Zimbabwe,” he said.
Ndiweni said consumers have no seat on the decision-making forums and as such their interests as the main and biggest drivers of the economy are ignored.
“It has to be emphasised that every consumer has a right to a corruption-free, ethical, abuse-free, effective, efficient, speedy and discrimination-free provision of quality goods and services free of charge or at a reasonable and justifiable price in due and fullest regard to fairness, justice, health and safety,” he said.
NACORA spokesperson Effie Ncube said the association will seek to engage stakeholders and will not hesitate to take to the streets, drag companies and government to court for redress, and boycott the goods and services of offenders.
“We will focus on legislation, government policies, consumer awareness raising and corporate behavioural change. The research will drive our fact-based advocacy. We will take decisive steps to empower the consumer to defend their rights through education and training, awareness campaigns, and stakeholder meetings,” said Ncube.
Ncube said one of the major challenges they wish to address is the issue with service providers over internet data expiry periods.
He said Zimbabwe is moving with the times and this era of technology has seen service providers ripping off consumers through unfair trading practices.
“We implore service providers to review their data services. The fact that when the stipulated time lapses data automatically lapses is unfair to the consumers. At least they should roll over unused data to the next hour many a time you realise that when you need to use the data there is no network and when the network gets back up then your data would have lapsed its hours and it goes unused. That is daylight robbery,” said Ncube.
Ncube said the association will work closely with Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and the Standards Association of Zimbabwe and the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association.
“We realise we are operating in an environment marred with a high unemployment rate. We will work closely with BVTA to ensure vendors also have proper facilities to provide goods that are of the best quality,” he said.
Ncube pointed out they will also engage the government and business community through roundtables, seminars and capacity building workshops.
“From today onwards no consumer will stand alone. We will fearlessly and vigorously tackle abuses and injustices in every sector. We will collectively bargain for our rights to quality goods and services. We will stand together against corruption and injustices. Consumers must get what they are entitled to in terms of quality and quantity,” he said.
A fortnight ago members of Parliament were moving around the country conducting public hearings on what the citizens would want included in the proposed Consumer Protection Bill.
Residents of Bulawayo emphasised on several issues where their rights are violated including unscrupulous price hikes and provision of substandard goods.