‘Malawi sliding backwards on consumer rights’
Consumers’ Association of Malawi (Cama) says the continued deterioration of public services delivery system has left the country’s consumer rights protection in deplorable state.
As the world commemorates consumer rights on Tuesday, Cama Executive Director, John Kapito, said the consumer welfare, which at one time started picking up, is now becoming more pathetic as the consumers are sweating or failing to access basic needs.
March 15 is World Consumer Rights Day, an annual occasion for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement and marks the date in 1962 when US President John F Kennedy first outlined the definition of consumer rights.
Kapito said current state of consumer welfare cannot be described as rosy when access to proper food, health, housing and education services remain far-fetched dreams for the majority of poor consumers.
“We are still miles away from achieving consumer rights protection. Malawi was moving towards achieving the goals in consumer rights but all of a sudden, I think we have taken over 200 steps backwards. The situation regarding consumer protection is so pathetic. That the State has also withdrawn itself from making sure that it provides the services that poor people fund through taxes is unacceptable,” Kapito said.
He said it is worrisome that consumers pay tax for the services that are not provided to them.
“We do not see our own taxes being ploughed back into the health sector, into the education sector, into the housing sector. Therefore, it comes back to us as consumers, how much are we standing up and begin to demand from the state, to make sure that we are given the services that we are entitled to?” queried Kapito adding that consumers must start fighting for their rights.
Kapito said Cama will use the day to promote its ‘Poor Lives Matter’ which is meant to speak for the poor consumers whose incomes have been severely eroded in the past two years.
In a statement, the Competition and Fair Trading Commissi o n (CFTC) Executive Director Charlotte Wezi Malonda said consumers create effective demand that induces productive sectors of the economy and without them there would be no production in the economy.
Malonda said all people must join hands and lobby tirelessly for consumer justice across the country.
“Our campaign for consumer justice would be in vain if consumers themselves do not take a lead in safeguarding their rights. The process of safeguarding one’s rights begins with awareness about the available mechanisms for reporting and penalising infringement,” Malonda said.
CFTC is expected to hold a Consumers’ Parade under the theme “Consumer Justice Now” and the theme was chosen due to the increasing number of consumer rights violations, many of which go unreported due to lack of awareness.
World Consumer Rights Day is deemed as an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers, for demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and for protesting the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.
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