Consumer Protection Laws in Zimbabwe

Consumer Protection Laws in Zimbabwe

Consumers have the right to disclose information about goods or services and to disclose prices. The law requires companies to provide complete and truthful information so that consumers fully understand the terms of the transactions they carry out. The Consumer Protection Act grants consumers the right to be informed, which includes, inter alia, information on the environmental impact of consumer choices and behaviours and on the potential impacts, including benefits and costs, of changes in consumption. Very useful indeed. I experienced one of the most brutal treatments of a retailer today. So much so that I had to look for my rights as a consumer. The right to fair contractual agreements (§§ 35 – 51) – § 35 gives consumers the right to fair and honest treatment and protection against unscrupulous behaviour. Suppliers or service providers are therefore prohibited from using unreasonable means such as misrepresentation, coercion, physical violence, undue influence, coercion, harassment or unfair tactics in the marketing of goods or services, the delivery of goods or services, the negotiation, conclusion and performance of agreements for the supply of goods or services. Despite the unique challenges posed by electronic commerce and the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14], businesses that provide such services are still required to extend certain spherical/generic rights to consumers. The legal provisions of Part Three of the Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14] are called fundamental consumer rights and therefore universal application. These fundamental consumer rights include: The SADC Declaration on Regional Competition and Consumer Policy and the United Nations Consumer Policy Guidelines recognize and proclaim consumer rights. The Consumer Protection Act is in line with UN directives as it guarantees the following consumer rights: The main objective of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is to protect the consumer of goods and services by ensuring a fair, efficient, sustainable and transparent market for consumers and businesses through the establishment of the Consumer Protection Commission, And to provide for the regulation of consumer protection organisations, while at the same time, the mechanism for the enforcement of consumer rights and the cancellation of consumer contracts Act.It aims to make it more than clear that the Consumer Protection Act is a comprehensive means of protecting Zimbabwean consumers in the current dynamic and complex economic environment. Given the punitive measures and obligations imposed on service providers, it is important for businesses to adapt their practices and policies to the Consumer Protection Act.

This will ensure that they are not only compliant with the law, but also that they adopt consistent business practices, thereby improving their business operations and relations with consumers. Article 33 introduces the right to be heard, representation and appeals. This right strengthens the ability of consumers to express complaints and concerns about a particular product so that the problem is dealt with in an effective and reactive manner. Such complaints may be dealt with by the Commission or the Court of Justice or through an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. When bringing appeals, Article 33(2) gives consumers the right to representation. Articles 9 to 51 of the Act provide for the fundamental rights of consumers as follows: it is necessary to set up national consumer education programmes, which are implemented by the Consumer Protection Commission in collaboration with member organisations of the economy. This will increase consumer awareness of the rights and remedies set out in the Consumer Protection Act. Information must be easily accessible and easy to understand in order to meet the different access needs of consumers, who may be particularly vulnerable to deceptive marketing practices. This section deals with consumers` rights under the Consumer Protection Act. The article also deals with enforcement mechanisms, offences and penalties provided for by law. Entrepreneurs in the informal sector, as well as customers, tend not to know their duties and obligations as provided for by law. It also exposes consumers to exploitation.

The right to vote protects the freedom of consumers to choose their preferred goods or services without undue influence. The right to choose includes the right to select or reject an inventory displayed after the completion of a transaction. More importantly, Article 18(3) of the Consumer Code [Chapter 14:14] gives the consumer the right to return the goods if he finds that the goods are not subject to the preferred choice. It is proposed that this provision further support the common law position that a key feature of a contract of sale is that the goods must be identifiable in terms of both quality and quantity. As such, consumers have a relatively strong protection that supports the right to vote. The right to information obliges suppliers to be honest with the consumer in all essential aspects of the goods or services that are the subject of the transaction. The provision that all goods or services offered for sale must be allocated to the price is of paramount importance to both the consumer and the supplier. In addition, section 26(5) of the Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14] provides that a consumer may not pay more than the advertised or displayed price, subject to that price, including all taxes and duties duly associated with such a transaction. The next subsection contains some exceptions, namely: that the price is required by law; that the price was hidden by a second price in the advertisement and that the price was inaccurate if the supplier took steps to inform the consumer of the incorrect advertised price. The right of consumers to fair contractual arrangements is a protection against unscrupulous transactions such as suppliers who abuse or unjustifiably exercise their bargaining power, which is contrary to the principle of fair trade. Subsection 35(2) of the Consumer Code [Chapter 14:14] prohibits the use of physical force, coercion, undue influence, pressure, coercion, harassment or unfair tactics against a consumer at any stage of the interface or interaction with the consumer.

The stages of interaction expressly mentioned in the provision include marketing, delivery of goods, negotiation and completion of a supply of goods or services, request for recovery of payments for goods or services, and restitution of goods or services. Although the fundamental rights of consumers mentioned above are not exhaustive, they encompass some of the important obligations that suppliers should be aware of towards consumers. The Zimbabwean legislator has published the Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14], No. 5/2019, which aims to provide greater protection to consumers of goods and services in the market and eliminate unethical suppliers and inappropriate business practices. This note highlights some of the notable features of the law. We highlight the sections of the new law that expand the scope of consumer rights and how those rights can be enforced. At the end of the note, we highlight some of the crimes that have been created and the penalties that can be imposed on offenders. The Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14] was adopted on 10 December 2019 to address, inter alia, the protection of consumers of goods and services by ensuring a fair, efficient, sustainable and transparent market for consumers and businesses. The application of this legal instrument has been designed to include not only persons or organizations that must be registered for the purposes of their professional activity or in accordance with the provisions of the law, but also that the authors have also extended this application to persons or entities operating on a profit-making basis or in any other way. In addition, the Act appears to have extraterritorial effect as it also extends to suppliers residing or having their registered office inside or outside Zimbabwe. The provisions of Article 3(3) of the Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14] specify that online shops or electronic commerce fall within the scope of the legislation.

In addition, Articles 52 to 54 of the Consumer Code [Chapter 14:14] refer specifically to the rights and obligations owed to a consumer, including a 7-day cooling-off period during which that consumer has the right to withdraw from the electronic transaction without giving reasons or without penalty and to return the goods. § 53 para. Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14] expressly prohibits the interpretation of the prescribed cooling-off period as a restriction of consumer rights, which may include the non-delivery of goods within the cooling-off period. With respect to digital marketing tools, section 54 of the Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14] also regulates unsolicited commercial communications with consumers. Recently, the media have widely complained that consumers are being attacked by a flood of promotional material from suppliers, with no possibility of interrupting such communications. Article 54 authorises the consumer by giving him the opportunity to unsubscribe from any other communication and, in addition, the consumer may request the source from which he obtained these personal data. It is therefore of the utmost importance that all companies that operate e-commerce through online stores or other variants pay attention to how they interact and process strands of information such as email addresses, phone numbers and other personal information. It would be appropriate to use systems and procedures to deal with their interaction with this information.

Share this post