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SENATE HANSARD 18 JUNE 2019 vol 28 No 53

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday 18th June, 2019

The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE)

ICT LITERACY TRAINING SESSIONS

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I wish to remind the Senate that there will be half day ICT literacy training sessions for male Members of Parliament. The sessions will be held at the TelOne learning centre near the Harare Show grounds in Belvedere from 17th June to 12th July, 2019.  The training will be conducted in groups of 40 members over a period of three days.  Officers from the Information Technology Department will be stationed at the Members Dining Hall every sitting day from Tuesday 18th to Thursday, 20th June, 2019, for registration purposes. 

SECOND READING

CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL [H. B. 10A, 2018]

          First Order read: Second Reading: Consumer Protection Bill [H. B. 10A, 2018].

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. N. M. NDLOVU):  Thank you Madam President. I present before Senate the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018.

          Madam President, the purpose of this Bill is to protect the consumers of goods and services by establishing the Consumer Protection Commission and the regulation of Consumer Advocacy Organisations.  It will also repeal the Consumer Contracts Act [Chapter 8:03] and provide for matters incidental to or connected to the issues to deal with consumer protection. I will walk through some of the provisions in the Bill.

          Madam President, Clause 3 provides for the application of the Act.  It applies to the jurisdictional transactions conducted within Zimbabwe.  Exceptions are goods or services promoted or supplied to the State,  services supplied under an employment contract and transactions which the consumer is a juristic person whose asset value or annual turnover equals or exceeds the threshold value prescribed in the Government Gazette Notice by the Minister of Industry and Commerce.  The Act shall not apply to transactions for the sale letting or hiring of immovable property and contract of employment.

          Madam President, Clauses 4 and 5 provide for the establishment and functions of the Consumer Protection Commission.  The functions of the Commission are centered on the protection of consumers from unjust, unreasonable, improper and unacceptable, deceptive, unfair and fraudulent conduct and trading practices.  The Commission shall also promote fair business practices by coordinating and networking consumer activities with consumers vis-à-vis consumer organisations and protect consumer interests.  Further, the authority promotes consumer awareness and empowerment by referring and appearing before any court of law.

          Clause 6 provides for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Committee.  The committee shall be responsible for the controlling of Commission operations and all such matters pertaining to running of the Commission.

          Madam President, Clause 7 provides for the funds of the Commission and sources of such funds while Clauses 8 and 9 provide for the accreditation and suspension or cancellation of the Consumer Protection Advocacy groups.  The clauses further provide for the instances in which accreditation may be cancelled and punitive measures for non-compliance with accreditation criteria is also enunciated.

Madam President, Clause 10 and 11 provide for the consumers right to consumer education and right to fair value, good quality and safety of goods and services.  Clause 12, pursuant to the rights mentioned in the above clause, this clause further provides for the implied warranty of quality, a producer, importer, distributor or retailer is expected to give the consumer.  It further provides redress to the consumer when a violation occurs.

Clause 13 provides for the warranty on repaired goods as highlighted above.  This clause offers redress in giving six months warranty; implied and or express, which warranty is to be given by a service provider.

Madam President, I turn to Clause 14 which provides for the warning concerning fact and nature of risks in that a supplier of goods and services shall not supply, such subject to risk, of whichever nature and expect a consumer to be fully knowledgeable of such risk.  This clause attracts a punitive measure to persons in contravention of this clause and it clearly outlines warnings to be given to consumers.

Clause 15 provides for the recovery and safe disposal of designated products or components.  This clause places liability on suppliers, producers and importers to be responsible for disposal of goods, components, remnants, and containers or packaging into a common waste collection system.

Clause 16 provides for safety monitoring and recall procedure. The authority shall promote the development of mechanisms to allow consumer complaints, reports and violations reported, received, investigations to be conducted. These will in turn provide for the return, repair or the recalling of such goods consumers are exposed to.

Clause 17 provides for the liability for damages caused by goods. The clause extends liability of damages caused by goods to be producer. Any person who put their name on the packaging of goods or services, importers, distributors, retailers, suppliers and the exception to such liability. The clause also covers service providers, installers, suppliers among others.

Clause 18 provides for the defences of the suppliers of goods and services in relation to the liability covered in Clause 16 above.

Clause 19 provides for the right to choose goods or services of his or her choice without undue pressure and right to reject or return goods within reasonable time.

Clauses 20 and 21 provide for consumer rights to choose goods or services of their choice; right to select suppliers and cancel advance reservation booking or order.

Clause 22 provides for the delivery of goods or supply of services. The clause elaborates on the responsibilities of delivery of goods  and specifications to be included in agreements in relation to delivery of goods.

Clause 23 provides for the unsolicited goods or services. This clause defines what unsolicited goods or services are and covers contentious issues around the delivery, payment and return of such unsolicited goods.

Clause 24 provides for the expiry and renewal of fixed-term agreements. This clause which does not apply to juristic persons gives an outline of the components of time, how a fixed agreement may be legally terminated and liability of parties to such agreement in the event of expiration or termination.

Clause 25 provides for pre-authorisation of repair or maintenance services.

Clause 26 provides for the consumer’s rights to cooling-off period after direct marketing. This clause allows a consumer to rescind a transaction resulting from any direct marketing without reason or penalty within a certain number of days. The clause also outlines instances in which this is not applicable.

Clause 27 provides for the right to disclosure of information regarding goods or services and disclosure of prices.

Clause 28 provides for the disclosure by intermediaries for persons who agree to be represented. The clause also covers the areas in which the intermediary disclosure does not cover.

Clause 29 provides for the disclosure of reconditioned or grey market goods.

Clause 30 provides for the identification of deliverers, installers and others.

Clause 31 provides for the right to noticeable and legible information in plain and understandable language.

Clause 32 provides for description of product labeling and trade descriptions. The clause also prohibits the use of product labels and trade descriptions that are deceptive and misrepresentative.

Clause 33 provides for the sales records. This clause compels a supplier of goods to provide a written record of each transaction to a consumer to whom goods or services are supplied. The clause goes further to outline what should be contained in such a record.

Clause 34 covers the right for a consumer to be heard by the Commission or court and the right to seek redress in terms of this Act or any other law.

Clause 35 which provides for the consumer’s right to return goods, outlines the instances where such a right is applicable and also when not applicable.

Clause 36 provides that a consumer has the right to be treated fairly and honestly in any transaction or promotional activity by any supplier, marketer or service provider.

Clause 37 prohibits false and misleading representations in relation to the marketing of goods and services either through words or conduct by a supplier or anyone acting on behalf of the supplier.

Clause 38 prohibits fraudulent schemes and offers and all such actions related to the distribution of false communication.

Clause 39 gives the consumer the right to assume that a supplier of goods or services is legally entitled to or has the legal right or authority to sell or supply goods or services.

Clause 40 deals with auctions. It provides description of a sale on auction; conclusion of a sale and transactions related to sales at auctions.

Clause 41 deals with over selling and over booking. It prohibits suppliers from accepting payment of goods or services they are not capable of supplying or delivering. The clause also outlines the redress in instances where a supplier has accepted payment but fails to deliver due to various reasons. The clause goes on to outline defences that are acceptable at law for the failure to supply goods or services or reservations where payment has been accepted.

Clause 42 provides a description of unfair, unreasonable and unjust transaction, agreement and contract terms.

Clause 43 deals with Disclaimer Clause. This clause prohibits suppliers, service providers of goods or services, owners or occupiers of shops or other trading premises from displaying or causing to be displayed, any sign or notice that purports disclaim liability or to deny right to a consumer under this Act or any other law.

Clause 44 deals with notice required for certain terms and conditions.

Clause 45 provides for agreements that require to be reduced into written consumer agreement. Powers of court to enforce fair and just terms and conditions are provided in Clause 46.

Clause 47 provides for relief against unfair consumer contract.

Clause 48 deals with changes, deferrals, waivers and substitution of goods. It outlines how the change in goods and services supplied does not alter the terms of an agreement and how such changes, deferrals, waivers and substitution are dealt with in regards to this Act.

Clause 49 provides for the right to confidentiality and privacy that a party to a consumer agreement is accorded and instances where these privacy and confidentiality rights are not applicable.

Clause 50 provides for an extension of the right to privacy and gives the consumer the right to restrict unwanted direct marketing.

          Clause 51 provides regulation of time for suppliers to directly market goods and services to contracting consumers.

          Clause 52 provides for supplier’s responsibilities and outlines a number of responsibilities that this Act places upon and binds the supplier of goods or provider of services, both formal and informal trading.  The responsibilities range from provision of warranty; undertaking to supply fairly priced goods of good quality to trading fairly; giving adequate information and representation on goods and services.

          Clause 53 provides for information that a supplier of goods or services is expected to provide online to consumers for electronic transfers.

          Mr. President Sir, Clause 54 provides for the cooling-off period in electronic transactions.

          Clause 55 deals with unsolicited goods, services or communications.        

          Mr. President Sir, I have made an error in my notes, where I am saying ‘Agency,’ in the actual Bill in the National Assembly, we corrected and agreed that they should not say, ‘Agency’ but say, ‘Commission’.  So you will find that where I was referring to ‘Agency’, I seek your indulgence, because it has now changed to ‘Commission’.  So pardon me when I was referring to ‘Agency’ yet it is now ‘Commission’ in the Bill.  I thank you.

          Clause 56 provides for the Minister’s power to designate certain organisations to be consumer protection organisations.

          Clauses 57; 58; 59 and 60 establish consumer protection officers, their qualifications, registration, powers and prescription of disputes.

          Clause 61 deals with the effect of referral to compulsory arbitration.  Arbitral awards are registrable and enforceable by competent courts.

          Clause 62 provides for the submission of the reports to the Minister by the consumer protection organization within three months at the beginning of every year.

          Clause 63 provides for the reasons where a consumer protection organisation can be deregistered and Clause 64 provides for the procedure for renewal of certificates by consumer protection officers and arbitrators.

          Mr. President Sir, Clause 65 provides for the deregistration of the consumer protection officers and arbitrators.

          Clauses 66; 67 and 68 provide for the enforcement of rights by consumer, accredited Consumer Protection Advocacy Groups and the court.

          Clauses 69 and 70 deal with compliance notices and objections thereof.

          Clause 71 deals with the appointment of inspectors and investigators.

          Clauses 72; 73 and 74 provide for the outcome of investigation, consent orders and interim relief.

          Clauses 75 and 76 provide for the powers and conduct of entry and inspection or search.

          Clauses 77 and 78 provide for assistance of inspectors or investigators by the Authority and the issue of Summons.

          Clauses 79; 80; 81 and 82 provide for offences and penalties in relation to disclosure of confidential information, offences and penalties relating to the Agency or Court, Administrative fines and vicarious liability.

          Clause 83 provides for the Minister to give policy directions.

          Clause 84 provides for relations with regulators and Clause 85 provides for reports made by the Commission to the Minister.

          Clause 86 provides for exemption from liability.

          Clause 87 deals with the Appeals.

          Clause 88 provides for the Regulations.

          Clause 89 provides for the repeal of the Consumer Contracts Act [Chapter 8:03], transitional provisions and savings.

          In conclusion, Mr. President Sir, the Consumer Protection Bill is fundamental in protecting the consumer of goods and services.  I now move that the Bill be read the second time.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE:  Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to debate in support of this Bill.  I think that as consumers of various products, we have been neglected and abused by service providers.  So in supporting, I know that this Bill is administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

          My appeal to the Ministry is, can the sphere of influence of this Commission be felt in all sectors i.e. industry, mining, education et cetera so that everybody is covered?  With those few words, I rise in support of the Bill.  I thank you.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I hope that the Hon. Minister has captured what you said.

          HON. ZIYAMBI: I am sorry I did not Mr. President Sir.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  May I ask the Hon. Sen. Chief to summarize what he stated?

          HON. SEN. CHIEF. NGUNGUMBANE:  Mr. President, thank you once more.  I said that I rose to support the Bill.  I think that as consumers of various goods and services we have been neglected.  There was no protection that was coming to us but my appeal to the Hon. Minister is, I know that this Bill is being administered by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

          I hope that its sphere will transcend all agencies and departments of Government.  I thank you.

SECOND READING

CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL [H. B. 10A, 2018]

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. N. M. NDLOVU):  Mr. President, I now move that the Bill be read a second time.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Bill read a second time.       

          Committee Stage:  With leave, forthwith

COMMITTEE STAGE

CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL [H. B. 10A, 2018]

          House in Committee.

          Clauses 1 to 52 put and agreed to.

          On Clause 53:

          HON. SEN. B. MPOFU: On Clause 53 (II), the consumer is entitled to get refund in 14 days after cancellation.  If you get back to Clause 25 (IV) (a), it says 15 business days which basically is 21 days. What is the motivation for the difference?

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Chair.  If you go to Clause 25, it is speaking about direct marketing, this pertains to electronic transactions, so, what is the query?

          HON. SEN. B. MPOFU:  My question was for the goods that are bought directly; basically the payment is received after 15 business days. If you look at 25 (IV) (a), it says 15 business days which effectively is 21 days.  On the other side the electronic ones, it seems to be on 53 (II), it talks about 14 days after cancellation, which effectively is 10 business days.  So, I am asking for the motivation for the difference.

          HON. ZIYAMBI: My understanding basically is, this is 14 days after cancellation, it is not speaking of business days but the other one is speaking of business days.  So, I think the mischief they are trying to cure is at least you know the person; there is an interface when it is direct marketing but this one, there is no interface and they are trying to ensure that the period is shorter and you recover your money much earlier than the other one.  The first one which has a longer period, there is a human interface but this is electronic, you would have transacted electronically and you request the reversal of the sale and it should pretty much happen quickly than when you go and do a transaction directly.  That is the reasoning but I do not think there is anything that is critical about the time differentials so to speak.  I thank you Madam Chair.

          Clause 53, put an agreed to.

          Clauses 54 to 92 put and agreed to.

          House resumed

          Bill reported without amendments.  

          Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.

THIRD READING

CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL [H. B. 10A, 2018]

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON ZIYAMBI): Mr. President, I now move that the Bill be read the third time.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read the third time.

SECOND READING

MICRO-FINANCE BILL [H. B. 11A, 2018]

Second Order read: Second Reading: Micro-Finance Bill [H. B. 11A, 2018].

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON ZIYAMBI): Mr. President, I rise to present the Micro Finance Bill [H. B. 11A, 2018]. I will have a very short Second Reading speech as I do not want to complicate issues. The Bill seeks to amend the Micro Finance Act, Chapter 24:30 and basically, it seeks to achieve two main objectives which I am going to highlight.

Firstly, the Bill will reduce the variety of institutions that carry on micro finance business under the Act. At present, the act envisages four different types of institutions and these are:

1)   Corporate micro financiers which are partnerships or companies engaged in money lending or providing credit to/or accepting deposits from small scale businesses and members of lower income groups;

2)   Credit only micro financiers which are organisations that provide loan and credit to small scale borrowers;

3)   Deposit taking micro financiers which are organisations accepting deposits from small scale businesses and members of lower income groups;

4)   Money lenders who provide loans and credit but are not micro financiers.

What the Bill seeks to achieve is to reduce the confusion and overlapping and will amend the Act to recognise only two institutions, that is, credit only micro finance institutions namely companies that provide loans and credit to small scale borrowers and deposit taking micro finance institutions, namely companies that accept deposits from small scale businesses and members of lower income groups.

          The main objective of the Bill is to extend and strengthen the supervision that can be exercised over micro finance institutions. This is the main aim of the Bill in a nutshell. What we have done is to do legal scrubbing to ensure that we remove the four institutions and remain with two and streamline everything so that it is consistent with the objective of having only two micro finance houses. I so submit and move that the Bill be read a second time.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Bill read a second time.

          Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.

COMMITTEE STAGE

MICRO-FINANCE BILL [H. B. 11A, 2018]

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 36 put and agreed to.

          First Schedule put and agreed to.

          House resumed.

          Bill reported without amendments.

          Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.

THIRD READING

MICRO-FINANCE BILL [H. B. 11A, 2018]

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. President Sir, I now move that the Bill be read the third time.

          Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read the third time.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S BILATERAL VISIT TO THE SHURA ADVISORY COUNCIL IN DOHA

Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate Mudenda’s visit to the Shura Advisory Council, Doha, Qatar, 30th March to 4th April.

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND EAST PROVINCE (HON. SEN. MUNZVERENGWI):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 19th June, 2019.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND EAST PROVINCE (HON. SEN. MUNZVERENGWI), the Senate adjourned at Six Minutes to Four o’clock p.m.

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 June 2019 18:05
Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 18 JUNE 2019 vol 28 No 53