Parliament met this week and the main item on the agenda was the debate on the Companies and other Entities Bill and the Consumer Protection Bill. The National Assembly received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Companies and other Business Entities Bill. Amendments to Clauses were put and agreed to. The Bill was amended and adopted.
In line with Zimbabwe’s international reengagement efforts, Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda led a delegation on a bilateral visit to the Shura Advisory Council of Qatar from 30th March to 4th April 2019. The objectives of the visit were to strengthen bilateral relations between the Qatar Shura Advisory Council and the Parliament of Zimbabwe, explore areas of mutual interest and engagement between the Qatar Shura Advisory Council and the Parliament of Zimbabwe and to discuss areas of co-operation between African Parliaments and the Shura Council.
Industry and Commerce Committee chairperson, Hon Musikavanhu tabled a report on the Consumer Protection Bill [H. B. 10, 2018]. The Bill gazzetted on 21 December, 2018 seeks to protect the consumer of goods and services by establishing the Consumer Protection Agency and repealing the Consumer Protection Act, [Chapter 8:03]. The Committee held public hearings across the country on the Consumer Protection Bill from 25 February to 1 March 2019 in line with Section 141 of the Constitution which provides that Parliament must ensure that interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by Parliament unless such consultation is inappropriate or impracticable. Major concerns raised by the public during the hearings include:
- The economic challenges that the country is currently grappling with have led to violation of consumer rights;
- Consumers were not aware of the existence of this Bill; hence appreciation of the Bill was very low;
- The most topical of concerns by consumers were currency related issues which have led to the violation of a number of consumer rights;
- While the Bill seeks to protect the consumers, there was also need to ensure that suppliers are also not prejudiced of their rights as well;
- The public called for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Agency and called upon the Government to ensure that the Agency is an independent office which operates along the lines of independent Commissions and not under the Ministry;
- The need for the Bill to protect consumers from the three-tier pricing by enforcing that all retail shops should price their products based on the currency such as the RTGs dollar which the majority of Zimbabweans have access to rather than the United States Dollar.
Consumer Protection Committee (CPC)
Members of the general public put forward the proposal that Parliament should play a role in the selection of persons to sit on the CPC. It was recommended that representatives from Trade Unions and educationists should sit on the Committee since they represent the interests of workers and educationists, thus have the capacity to raise awareness on consumer rights.
On another note, a community organisation, Water Alliance appeared before the Lands, Agriculture, Climate, Water and Rural Settlement Committee to give oral evidence on the right of citizens to access to clean water. This follows a petition they lodged to Parliament last year. Major issues raised in the meeting include the need to align laws to the Constitution that deal with water issues, need for transparency and accountability in the acquiring of water loan agreements and the need for Parliament to exercise its oversight function to investigate into water issues for transparency and accountability as well as to ensure that Government worked towards the progressive realisation of people’s rights to clean water given the available resources. The Committee concluded that investigations will be conducted around the country on matters of concern and if need be, summon the Local Authorities in question as well as the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ).
Source: Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST)