Govt to educate public about Consumer Bill

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Trade and Industry is to embark on a consumer protection awareness campaign countrywide, next week.

The campaign aims to educate and create awareness among members of the public about the impact and consequences of the 2007 Consumer Protection Bill, which has been passed by Parliament and is awaiting President Kgalema Motlanthe's signature before becoming an Act.

The campaign will be rolled-out in the form of an industrial theatre. Performers will act out different scenarios of unethical business practices and real-life situations consumers are likely to experience at the hands of unscrupulous service providers.

The actors will also depict how to avoid falling into the debt trap amid the global economic slowdown.

Officials from the Consumer Division of the department will distribute information leaflets and educate those in attendance about issues related to their consumer rights and responsibilities.

Deputy Director-General of department's Consumer and Corporate Regulation Division, Zodwa Ntuli explained that the overall aim of the Consumer Protection Bill is to ensure fair, competitive and responsible markets that work well for consumers and promote ethical business practices.

"The Bill will also ensure that consumers are able to make well-informed buying decisions and access a wide range of products and services based on honest and fair marketing."

"Consumers drive competitiveness and economic growth. Well-informed consumers stimulate innovation, better quality product and service, and competitive prices," said Ms Ntuli.

She added that as the department embarks on a campaign to educate consumers about the rights afforded by the Bill, it will also be important that awareness is equally raised on the responsibilities of consumers in ensuring the effective implementation of the Bill.

The Bill, amongst other objectives, seeks to promote consumer activism by making provision for the accreditation of consumer groups that would be tasked with lodging complaints on behalf of consumers, as well as making available possible financial support for activities such as consumer advice, education, publications, research and alternative dispute resolution through mediation or conciliation.

In addition, the Bill gives rise to the establishment of the National Consumer Commission, a body assigned to investigate consumer complaints.