December 25, 2006, The Post

The African Union Commission should look at promoting an effective and decentralized consumer redress mechanism at regional economic community Consumer Unity And Trust Society coordinator Sajeev Nair has said.

Nair said individual countries should also make necessary amendments to the existing legislation to deal with new types of abuses and also expand the scope and coverage of the consumer Act.

“Globalisation has brought in several opportunities for the consumers and new challenges for government and consumer protection agencies, Countries should there fore make amendments to the acts to protect the consumers abuse from within and across the border” said Nair at a business meeting in South Africa (SA) last week organised by Au Commission and SA’s department of Trade and Industry “As a consumer advocacy organisation, we wish to call upon the AU Commission to take the lead in not only a comprehensive piece of model consumer protection legislation at continental level but also to promote and en effective and decentralized consumer redress mechanism at regional economic community and national level”.

Zambia has had its competition and fair trading Act amended this year awaiting approval.The amended Act now seeks to encompass numerous consumer protection issues, as will as the compensation of the affected customers.Nair also indicated that the protection of consumer rights was a necessary condition to ensure democracy in the market place.

However, he noted “consumer rights are not even defined in many countries of the world. In a democratic society if is also ensured by the state that the rights of minorities and disadvantaged people are not suppressed by the wishes of the majority.Nair said market democracy also required the stat to ensure protection of poor and disadvantaged consumers,“As per the liberal economic order of the day, the market can produce an option outcome when there is ‘democracy in the market’ In a democratic society it’s the people or citizens who are supreme forces.” said Nair