Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) has asked Malawians to be vigilant and guard their consumer rights.
CAMA executive director John Kapito made the remarks on the sidelines of the commemoration of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day held at Mponela Police Ground in Dowa.
Kapito said it is worrying to note that most Malaŵians remain silent whilst their rights as consumers are being infringed when accessing various services and buying products.
“It begins with awareness, making sure that the consumers we are talking about are being educated about their rights.
“We are supposed to go out there to demand these rights, these rights need to be demanded, unfortunately in Malaŵi when you begin to demand, you are seen as a devil,” said Kapito.
Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) board chairperson Jerry Jana, lamented that most consumer rights are being violated because most Malawians are unaware of their rights and responsibilities.
He said: “One of the biggest gaps is knowledge, our consumers don’t understand these rights unfortunately traders are taking advantage of the knowledge gap and they can do anything to our consumers because of the lack of knowledge and understanding.”
Minister of Trade Simplex Chithyola Banda bemoaned the tendency of some traders who are selling their products at higher prices in turn making supernormal profits.
“We need to respect the rights of the consumers, when we are talking of unfair trading, we are talking of skyrocketing prices of basic necessities,” said Chithyola Banda.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Acting Enforcement and Exemptions Manager Siboniselizulu Maseko urged Malaŵians to lodge complaints even when buying products from abroad.
She said: “We want to encourage consumers in Malaŵi when they buy products from outside Malaŵi that if they have problems they can complain to us through CFTC because we work together and we investigate such cases.”
Commemorations making the day started with a consumers’ parade led by the Malaŵi Police Service (MPS) brass band.
The day, which is commemorated annually on 15th March, has been observed under a local theme: “Be an empowered consumer, know your rights and obligations.”