Manicaland Correspondent
THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has called on service providers to improve digital service delivery in line with customer demands, as the world commemorates World Consumer Rights Day.

Last Thursday, CCZ joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Consumer Rights Day, under the theme “Making Digital Marketing Places Fairer”.

In Manicaland, celebrations were held at Mutare Museum.

Different stakeholders, including the ICT Ministry and Mutare Residents’ Ratepayers’ Association (MURA) were present.

Manicaland CCZ regional officer Mr Banarbas Masamvu explained to consumers on the eight basic rights of consumers, which include the right to choose, to be heard, to redress consumer education, a healthy environment as well as consumer responsibilities, which include critical awareness, action, social concern, solidarity and environmental awareness.

“As CCZ we are worried about how consumers are being treated when it comes to the digital world,” he said. “Is it fair?”

In a speech read on behalf of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security, Dr Sam Kundishora, by a technician in the Manicaland ICT sector, Mr Winter Nhuruza, Dr Kundishora said: “Consumers require openness regarding product pricing.

“Consumers who choose e-commerce as their preferred method of purchase and sale should be afforded the same transparent and effective protection as with all other forms of trade.

“Consumer watchdogs should be established which advocate for consumer interests and ensure that digital service providers have relayed adequate and relevant information about their products and services.”

Dr Mandishona said digital challenges had resulted from lack of security and safety of transacting online and these digital challenges could be categorised as cyber safety, cyber crime and cyber security.

“To protect consumers against these monstrocities of data information and theft, policies need to be developed to protect consumer information such as the Cyber Security Bill and Data Protection Bill,” he said.

Mr Nhuruza advised consumers to be educated about the digital world.

He said: “In addition to providing consumer education, businesses should be encouraged to play a consultative role to Government in consumer education, to develop their own methodologies and guidelines for promoting consumer education in their respective fields.”

Guest of honour for the event, Mr Samuel Mugijima from Mutare Polytechnic’s IT department said: “Consumers are the largest number in an economy affected by almost every public and private decisions. E-commerce has transformed the way people buy and sell goods and services, giving consumers more choice than ever before.

“E-commerce has somehow managed to address the cash crisis that has been experienced by the public and is now able to transact using plastic money.

“However, the rapid changes in technology and ever-changing business practices have created many challenges for consumers, bringing with them a lot of challenges that include online scams or fraud.”

Mr Mugijima said nearly 70 percent of consumers feared that their digital payments were unsafe.

“Regulations with mobile money transactions are still very sketchy, making it unfair to consumers,” he said. “While banking charges have slightly gone down, mobile money transaction charges remain very high.”

Mr Mugijima revealed that CCZ was lobbying Government to work with regional and continental blocks to come up with international laws as well as promote international enforcement and cooperation among member states and encourage the sharing of experiences in consumer protection.

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