CUTS-AFRICA RESOURCE CENTRE


CONSUMER WATCH

A Quarterly EnewsLetter Vol.5, Issue No. 2, 2009

CONTENTS

1. Editorial Comments

Consumers in Zambia have continued to face poor service delivery, despite paying large sums of money. Improvement by service utilities has been minimal as there are reportedly a number of cases involving water blues, inconsistent power supply, electricity tariff hikes, etc. The problem of counterfeit and sub-standard products have also proved difficult to address, attributed to the fact that liberalisation was not implemented alongside institutional reforms. Most institutions responsible for consumer welfare have continued to be criticised as being inefficient, as well as lacking institutional capacity in addressing consumers’ plight.

It is in this vein that Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) and Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) have continued to bemoan the lack of adequate legislation to monitor, probe and take legal action against consumer abuses and are thus urging the government to quickly expedite the on-going process of enacting a comprehensive consumer welfare policy.

Editor


2. ZESCO in Massive Load-shedding

Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) Limited disclosed that it has embarked on a massive load-shedding exercise in some parts of the country due to limited power generation caused by a blockage at the Kafue Gorge power station. The shedding has been attributed to the Kafue weed that blocked the smooth flow of water to the Kafue Gorge hydro power station, ultimately reducing the intake of water required for power generation. This was disclosed by ZESCO Limited public relations manager, Lucy Zimba.

In this light, consumers will be subjected to massive load-shedding across the country until the problem has been resolved. The power utility had already commenced works to resolve the problem. ZESCO would issue a comprehensive report after assessing the extent of the blockage at Kafue gorge power station.

                                      (Source: The Post, 02.06.09)
 


3. Zimbabwe Maize Donation Displeases ZACA

It is odd and hypocritical to be donating large amounts of food to neighbouring countries when more than half of the nation’ population is facing hunger. It is in this vein that the ZACA recently condemned the government’s decision to donate 9,000 tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe, as a contribution towards that country’s economic recovery.

Many parts of the country were still in need of relief food, hence the importance of first addressing their needs before making any donation to another country. The ZACA stated that many millers in the country were still selling their mealie meal (Zambia’s staple food) at high prices, owing to high prices of maize, leaving the consumer to bear the costs, a clear confirmation that the country still had shortages of stock to satisfy the local market demand.

  (Source: Lusakatimes.com, 04.05.09)


4. Counterfeit Medicines Worry State

The government recently pledged to support the implementation of strategies aimed at combating counterfeit medicines, especially those used in the treatment of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. This was disclosed by the Minister of Health, Kapembwa Simbao, during the official opening of the Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia (PSZ) combined pharmaceutical and scientific conference in Ndola recently.

Concerns have been raised that most medicine imitations were for life saving drugs and those used for the treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. All stakeholders engaged in the fight against diseases have been called upon to step up their focus on counterfeit medicines. It had been noted that most medicines on display were imported, hence the challenge for the Pharmaceutical Association of Zambia to work with local industries to overcome any challenge the industry was going through and make such findings available for consideration by the government.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 13.06.09)


5. State Declares No Mealie Meal Imports

Importation of mealie meal will not be allowed by the government, as the prices are expected to stabilise soon after the harvest of the early maize crop. Recently, the Zambia Competition Commission (ZCC) had suggested that the government allows the importation of mealie meal to help reduce prices because the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) was operating like a cartel, hence exploiting consumers through excessive pricing of mealie meal.

However, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister, Felix Mutati, said the importation of maize through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was enough to cater for the deficit. According to the Minister, the government also wanted to utilise the existing local capacity of millers who were creating jobs and making money to reinvest in the country.

(Source: The Post, 29.04.09)


6. Bottled Water Manufacturers Warned

For some time now, a number of manufacturers in bottled drinking water have been operating without permits, thereby endangering the lives of consumers, as most of the water would have impurities and was not certified. Hence, the Zambia Bureau of Standard’s (ZABS) warning to severely prosecute any manufacturers of bottled drinking water operating without permits from the institution has received support from consumers. The ZABS has only permitted 17 companies to manufacture and produce bottled drinking water in the country in 2009.

According to the ZABS, getting a permit to supply was mandatory for all manufacturers of bottled drinking water and offenders would be prosecuted. Some of the brand names of companies that have duly complied with the standards of bottled water and permit conditions for food establishments include Aqua Velle, Thirsty, Rivonia, Polar, Breeze, Vibrant Aqua, Manzi Valley, Aquasavana, Pure Heaven and Aqua Ice.

(Source: The Post, 28.05.09)


7. Banking Services Available for Lukulu

Lukulu district in Western Province of Zambia has been without banking services since Zambia’s independence in 1964. It has been difficult for many residents (customers) to actually save money as banking facilities have been absent. Thus, the recently opened up National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE) branch in this unexploited, but potentially viable, district was received with great joy and excitement by the locals.

The opening up of the bank follows a market knowledge study entitled “FinScope Demand-side Survey” which revealed that only one million of the Zambian adult population had access to commercial bank services. Chisha Mwanakatwe, Director for Non-banking Supervision, Bank of Zambia (BoZ) encouraged other banks to emulate the move by NATSAVE and seize opportunities in rural areas in order to foster development.

(Source: The Post, 02.06.09)


8. Clean Water Cheers Kanyama Residents

Kanyama residents have finally something to be happy about. Recently, members of a UK-based charity organisation officially handed over a borehole which their organisation, Karygma 180 Degrees, had sunk for the community surrounding the Pilgrim Wesleyan church building. This service was provided at the request of the International Leadership Institute of Southern Africa (ILISA) who had come to share the gospel at the Pilgrim Wesleyan Church in Kanyama.

According to ILISA Director, Reverend Alfred Kalembo, the team was moved by the plight of the community when they saw locals drawing water from an open shallow well during their stay in Zambia. After consultations with community leaders, ILISA sent a project proposal to Karygma 180 Degrees to drill and install a borehole for the community within the vicinity of the Pilgrim Wesleyan Church. The charity organisation quickly responded to this distress call because they had witnessed the need for clean and safe water in the community for themselves. The borehole will provide clean and safe water to about 250 households in the community.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 12.06.09)


9. Snapshots on Consumer Issues

9.1 Government to Fix Mealie Meal Prices

The ZACA has called on the government to take an active role in the pricing of the staple food in the country. ZACA Executive Director, Muyunda Ililonga, said the failure by mealie meal traders to reduce the price of the commodity even when the manufacturers announced a reduction in the retail price of the commodity suggests that the government was not actively involved, hence giving traders a leeway to swindle consumers. The high prices of goods had both a direct and indirect impact on the poverty levels of people in the country.

(Source: Zambia News and Information Service, 24.04.09)

9.2 Fake Goods Destroyed

The government and other stakeholders have destroyed pirated and counterfeit goods. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Lieutenant-General Ronnie Shikapwasha, destroyed the counterfeit goods using a bulldozer during the commemoration of the World Intellectual Property Day. Shikapwasha appealed to officers involved in seizure of the products, including those in the anti-piracy crack squads, to resist the temptation of taking any such materials for use in their homes.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 27.04.09)

9.3 Maize Prices Applauded in Mkushi

The Mkushi District Commissioner, Mwila Kunda, said that in 2009 maize price was very good and there is a tangible improvement from 2008. He said farmers should understand that if government had set a higher amount than this, most consumers would have suffered. And, the ZACA Executive Secretary, Muyunda Ililonga, has welcomed the maize floor price and urged businessmen to reduce the price of mealie meal.

                                                                  (Source: Zambia News and Information Service, 19.05.09)

9.4 ZACA Calls for More Airlines

The ZACA has called for the introduction of more airlines to service local routes to avoid monopoly and save customers from paying exorbitant fares. This was after passengers complained that one airline was more expensive than the other and the prices were too high. Sources in the airline industry have responded by stating that the airlines use the fare charts and the prices sometimes depend on the sector involved.

                                                                  (Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 12.06.09)


About the Newsletter

Consumer Watch newsletter is a joint initiative of the CUTS ARC and ZACA, published with the objective of enhancing consumer welfare through sensitisation, information dissemination and capacity building of consumers, business entities and government. While addressing consumer concerns, the newsletter focuses on bringing out issues such as violation of consumer rights and measures to be taken by the relevant authorities to protect stakeholders.

CUTS ARC and ZACA will strive to support and lobby the Government and the stakeholders to ensure resumption of the process to eventually enact a functional Consumer Protection Law in the country and also establish a functional institutional mechanism to implement the law. This is in line with the changes taking place in other countries in the region in the wake of globalisation and liberalisation. Apart from carrying consumer-related information, the publication will also give an analysis on current consumer concerns in the country.

Contact Us
Consumer Watch Newsletter: Composed, published and distributed by: -

Consumer Unity & Trust Society – Africa Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC)
4th Floor, Main Post Office Building, P.O. Box 37113,
Cairo Road, Lusaka, Zambia,
Ph: 260.1.22 4992,
Fx: 260.1.22 5220,
E-mail:
lusaka@cuts.org
Web Site: www.cuts-international.org

and

Zambia Consumers Association (ZACA)
Suite 91, 2nd Floor – Afcom House Building,
Corner of Obote / Zambia Way Avenue
P.O. Box 21641, Kitwe, Zambia,
Telephone:  +260 2 224193, Fax:  +260 2 224193
Mobile:  +260 97 800018 / 095 910691 / 095 910692,
E-Mail: zaca@zamnet.zm

The news/stories in this Newsletter are compressed from several sources. The sources given are to be used as a reference for further information. CUTS-ARC and ZACA gladly welcome comments, suggestions and contributions from our esteemed readers.

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