A Quarterly EnewsLetter Vol.7, Issue No. 4, 2011

Editorial Comments

There is need to introduce prescription drug audits in hospital and clinics to monitor and restrict the use of medicines by health practitioners and pharmaceuticals on consumers. This will help consumers from being at the receiving end of the misuse of drugs by medical practitioners. The introduction of the prescription drug audit should be complemented by tightening up of the regulatory system to monitor the affordability and quality of drugs coming in Zambia.

Health consumers are at the mercy of unscrupulous health practitioners and drug companies because of competition to sell medicines and services in the loosely regulated industry.The failure to enforce health related laws undermines access to better health among the citizens. There is a need to enhance consumer awareness programmes on health issues because health illiteracy exacerbates the misuse of drugs


Most Common Food Allergies
Food is an important component for the survival of anybody. However, for some people, eating the wrong type of food can cause hives, swelling, vomiting and in some cases, death. Food allergies occur when the immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat and attempts to protect the body by releasing histamines and other chemicals into the blood. One can be born with a food allergy or it can develop over time.

According to experts, examples of foods that most people are prone to be allergic to are eggs, among others. Since eggs are such a common ingredient in foods, living with an egg allergy can be challenging. Most people who are allergic to eggs are sensitive to proteins found in the egg whites whereas others are irritated by proteins found in the yolk. Its allergies can be seen in symptoms such as wheezing, nausea, stomach ach and hives. Experts warn that safety precautions should be taken by all consumers to know because any food at any time can cause a reaction

(Source: The Post, 12.11.11)

Bread Hike Irate Zambia
Despite the Zambian government allowing the importation of subsidised flour and wheat, the backing sector still went forward and raised the prices of bread and bread rolls. During the period at which this situation was going on, Livingstone as well as Lusaka bakers increased the bread prices by about 0.098 thereby selling their bread and bread rolls at about US$1 each without giving justifiable reasons.

And this was despite the fact the country had a carryover surplus of 20,000 tonnes from 2010’s imports. This irate government and the Competition and Consumer Protection who have since taken up the matter for further probing on whether there any anticompetitive practices involved.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 22.12.11)

Consumer Involvement in Water Governance
For any regulatory process to be effective, all players specifically consumers must play their part. Zambia’s water sector is regulated by the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) which has since realised that- “The voice of the consumer from the ground enables the regulator to verify service delivery of providers thereby completing the service delivery chain made up of the regulator, service provider and consumer for timely feedback”.

NWASCO says involving the consumers in water governance obligated the water utility in the service area to improve the quality of service delivery by handling customer complaints expeditiously. All this can be achieved if consumers are informed about the existence of such regulatory bodies and their role as well as consumers’ rights and obligations

(Source: The Post, 21.12.11)

Barclays Launches Visa Platinum
With the rising number of Banks on the market, there is an increase in the pressure and competition by these financial institutions to continuously satisfy, maintain and increase their customer base by constantly bringing up innovative, cutting age and consumer friendly products. One such bank is Barclays Bank, which according to company’s Managing Director Savior Chibiya has endeavoured to bring innovative products to the Zambian banking sector aimed at meeting the needs and lifestyles of clients.

During the launch of the Barclays visa platinum debit card, Chibiya said that the banking sector had undergone various technological changes in the past few years such as ‘SMS’ alerts which allowed customers to have access to bank statements on their phones rather than visiting the bank and the use of debit cards which could be used to buy goods at various points of sell. Both means proved to be safe and convenient

(Source:The Post, 24.10.11)

CCPC Warns Mobile Service Providers
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) of Zambia says forcing subscribers to use credit for internet bundles within a given timeframe by mobile service providers is illegal and service providers risk being prosecuted. According to Section 54 (1), the CCPC Act it states “that in a contract between an enterprise and a consumer, the contract or a term of the contract shall be regarded as unfair if it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer”. Issuing the warning CCPC, Consumer and Public Relations Director Brian Lingela further explained that the Act states that, “an unfair contract or an unfair term of a contract between a consumer and an enterprise shall not be binding”.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 02.11.11)

Snapshots on Consumer Issues

Alcoholic Drink Tujilijili is Safe
Investigations into the safety of the alcohol sachets popularly known as Tujilijili have revealed that the beer is free of contaminants and safe for human consumption. Tujilijili is a strong alcohol sold in a sachet for about US$0.2 per sachet. Tujilijili is apparently becoming a Zambian obsession especially among youths who use them as a tranquillising drug to “keep their demons at bay”. However, the Lusaka City Council has allowed companies that were closed for manufacturing the sachets, to resume operations after test conducted by Zambia Bureau of Standards which finds no harm in them.

(Source: Lusakatimes.com, 22.10.11)

Load Shedding to Continue in 2012
Increased number of load shedding has angered Lusaka residents demanding for government to find a lasting solution to the impasse. The country has been experiencing untold load shedding in selected parts of the country. Addressing the consumers concerns Energy Minister Chris Yaluma said the power deficit that the country is facing is as a result of lack of sufficient capacity for the power utility company ZESCO to generate power to cater for the growing population

(Source: UKZambians, 21.12.11)

Zambia Cracks Down on Counterfeit Handsets
As counterfeit mobile handsets continue flooding the African market, the Zambian government has become more alert and now closing down all outlets selling such products. Zambia is among many other countries in Africa whose telecom market has been inundated by counterfeit products. Zambian Minister of Information Given Lubinda, recently instructed local officials in the country to unite against counterfeits products, and directed them to close all outlets selling counterfeit products.”

(Source: ComputerworldZambia.com, 15.12.11)

About the Newsletter
Consumer Watch newsletter is published with the objective of enhancing consumer welfare through sensitisation, information dissemination and capacity building of consumers, business entities and government. While addressing consumer concerns, the newsletter focuses on bringing out issues such as violation of consumer rights and measures to be taken by the relevant authorities to protect stakeholders.

CUTS ARC will strive to support and lobby the Government and the stakeholders to ensure resumption of the process to eventually enact a functional Consumer Protection Law in the country and also establish a functional institutional mechanism to implement the law. This is in line with the changes taking place in other countries in the region in the wake of globalisation and liberalisation. Apart from carrying consumer-related information, the publication will also give an analysis on current consumer concerns in the country.