Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

IntroductionTanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) was founded in 11th.July.2007 as a non governmental, independent consumers’ association which had been established with interest to promote, protect, disseminate, and advocate for consumers’ rights in Tanzania.

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society is an independent consumers’ voice whose intention is to forge a strong Consumers-Private- Public-Partnership with all sectoral regulatory authorities existing in Tanzania, local and international non-governmental organization to supplement government efforts on promotion and protection of consumers’ rights in Tanzania.

The issue of consumer protection in Tanzania has become acute especially since the liberalization of the Tanzania economy in the late 1980s. We believe TCAS is needed now, more than ever, to act as an independent voice for all consumers in today’s globalized world.

Our contribution toward consumers’ rights protection and promotion is essential to secure a fair, safe and sustainable future for Tanzania consumers in a global marketplace.

Government Efforts
The government has done wonderful jobs that provided several important pieces of legislation in which the respective rights and duties of consumers and suppliers can be identified and clarified.
The most important existing statutes concerning consumer affairs established since Tanzania independence are as follows;-
Tanzania Bureau of Standards Act; 1975
-Weight and measures Act; 1982
-Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority Act, 2001
-The Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority Act, 2001,
-The Fair Competition Act, 2003
-The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act, 2003
-The Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority Act, 2003
-Tanzania Food and Drug Authority Act 2003,
-The Bank of Tanzania Act, 2006 and many other written laws
It is peculiar to note that consumer abuses have continued to flourish in spite of the existing law; as it every where in the world, when certain law passed, unscrupulous traders like manufacturers, producers, importers, distributors, service providers of goods and services are finding ways to manoeuvre around it.
Therefore it is against this background TCAS is setting this five years strategic plan, to compliment government’s efforts on promotion and protection of consumers’ rights in Tanzania within the projected period.

Concepts in TCAS Strategic PlanThis Strategic plan as applied in this document is a departure from convention planning practice to essentially, having a systematically plans which decides what TCAS wants to be in future and how will it get there.
The plan includes the set of our mission, vision, values, operating principles, objectives, goals and implementation strategies for 2008-2012.
Our Vision
TCAS’s Vision is a Tanzania where consumers are aware of their rights and have ability to claim their rights. Where markets are accountable and more responsive to consumer’s needs and interests
Our Mission
To provide advocacy platform that would make consumers voices heard, raise consumer’s awareness of their rights, build consumer’s ability to claim their rights and make markets accountable and more responsive to consumers’ needs and interests.
Our values
-Adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct
-Having maximum Independence from business, government and party politics
-Having mutual respect and solidarity among Tanzania consumers and other implementing partners.
-Respect for consumers integrity
-Work on a very transparent and accountable manner.
-Work for maximum consumers’ participation on everything of their interest.
-Our operating principles
-Campaign constantly, fearlessly using maximum possible diplomatic ways for the betterment of Tanzania consumers.
-Always work for a common goal of supplement government efforts on protection and promotion of consumers’ rights.
-Collaborate with our members and partners by searching for synergies and promoting local and international consumers solidarity.
-Maintain a highly disciplined results oriented focus on maximizing impact for Tanzania consumers.
-Carry out strong financial management and sound operating procedures.
Our strategic objectives for 2008–2012
-Working toward raising Tanzania consumers’ awareness on their rights and obligations.
-Working on providing a platform to Tanzania consumers to make their voices to be heard.
-Working effectively on building the capacity of Tanzania consumers to claim for their consumers Rights.
-Working toward making markets accountable and responsive to consumers’ needs and interests.
Objective 1
Raising Awareness
Both public and private sectors are undergoing reforms to become more streamlined, less bureaucratic, more transparent and less corrupt. However, consumer rights philosophy has not yet extended to the reforms.
And, with a huge amount of private sector related laws and regulations to be changed, the majority of consumers and existing public institutions that are responsible for administering these reforms seem to be unprepared or act a bit slow for the challenge.

Furthermore, with the growth of the private sector, new civil society organizations are also emerging or reawakening to represent and advocate for their interests. To address these issues, the strategy of TCAS will focus on raising consumer rights awareness by incorporating crosscutting consumers’ problems, rights, responsibilities, and evidence-based analysis, into all our campaigns.
Our goals for 2008–2012 are to:Ø Conduct "Know Your Rights" campaigns, meetings, workshops, events and seminars, consumer rights education using relevant IEC materials and outreach services.
Ø Establish a "state–of–the art" reader-friendly consumer rights web site, hotline for 24/7, and establishment of Tanzania consumers Radio.
Ø Run open dialogue to receive consumers’ views and complaints and will produce monthly consumer bulletins.
Ø Undertake research and surveys on the magnitude of consumers' rights violation, frauds and cheating.
Ø Conduct outreach services focusing on the legal procedures for solving or lodging claims over cheating, fraud, fake, substandard and counterfeit goods and services.
Ø Work toward integration of consumers’ rights and issues into university and secondary schools curricula.
Ø Reflect Tanzania Consumers’ values and build recognition of the TCAS activities by making effective use of the media to communicate our work and purpose.
To this end TCAS will:To mainstream consumers’ rights philosophy in national policies and improve the linkages with on going reforms in order to ensure a level playing field with equal access for all including consumers, and with the appropriate checks and balances of a free market economy.
To collaborate with Sectoral Regulatory Authorities, universities, academic institutions, government ministries to undertake interdisciplinary research related to consumer rights to achieve real change – in consumers’ policy and practice.
By making consumers aware of their rights and the transparency that this entails will be among the most important factors in creating sustainable consumption and more equitable growth.
TCAS will also raise consumers’ awareness; to this end TCAS will:
Achieve positive change on consumers’ attitudes and understanding of their rights and responsibilities of at least 10 million consumers in Tanzania.
Objective 2
Right to be heard
'’Consumers are the largest economic group, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet they are the only important group... whose views are often not heard’’ by US President; J.F. Kennedy in his 15 March 1962 declaration to the US Congress.
Consumer rights are by nature very cross-cutting, with multiple counterparts, both public and private. Based on the needs identified by Tanzania consumers and building upon existing reforms, experiences gained over the last decade and gaps not covered by other stakeholders and activists,

Our goals for 2008–2012 are to:Lobby against exclusion and build a consumer-public-private partnership for regular exchange of information, discussions with government officials, distributors, officials from the regulatory agencies, legal and the institutional framework, Global Right to Food Network, human rights activists responsible for implementing and monitoring consumer rights at national and international levels, donor community, local and international NGOs, CBOs etc.
TCAS’s Technical Team will produce technical papers on specific issues related to Consumer rights for policy makers and other actors. The aim is to make consumers voices heard and enlist a common stand on consumer rights, needs and interests. Where possible, twinning with foreign consumer rights advocates will also be considered.
Conduct Annual consumer award to create greater possibilities for using values of corporate social responsibility (CSR), standards and business best practise frameworks to promote greater private sector interest in consumers’ protection.
Mobilise Tanzania consumers to strongly participate on speaking out and public communications campaign on certain key consumers issues such as; - the rights to be informed and to be heard, right to safety and sustainable essential goods and services.
To this end TCAS will:1. Improve consumers’ ability to fight and protect for their consumers’ rights.
2. Catalyse strong consumers’ participation in all issues of their interests.
3. Improve TCAS’s ability to gather and interpret credible information on the views and concerns of consumers all over Tanzania and articulate this to decision-makers.
4. Achieve mutual understanding between consumers and other stakeholders like producers, distributors, services providers, retailers on what are the needs and interests of consumers in Tanzania market,
5. Achieve positive change on consumers’ attitudes and ability to claim for redress from producers, service providers, distributors, of at least ten thousand consumers to be able to claim for redress under this strategic plan period.
Objective 3
Capacity to claim Rights
To build the capacity of Tanzania consumers where ever they are in rural and urban areas that can increase the strength of national society to campaign effectively for consumers’ rights nationally and all around the world.
TCAS must be strong financially and operationally to continue being an effective and efficient force for Tanzania consumers. We must be a highly skilled, ethical, inclusive organisation which values and nurtures our staff. We must have necessary skills manage our activities and finances with great care and provide our well-wishers and donors with maximum value for their money.
Our goals for 2008–2012 are to:Improve consumers’ negotiation skills, strategic engagement with the government, manufacturers, service providers, distributors and eradicating feelings of powerlessness.
Develop a stronger national campaigning movement, equipped to work in collaboration with partners to build our internal capacity to achieve our long-term goals.
Conduct in two years an internal capacity building needs assessments and that of our implementing partners to establish a level playing ground.
Develop and implement human resource strategies, systems and policies that reflect and lead on implementation of TCAS’s ambitions and objectives.
Support the work of various groups including the group of Voluntary Observers in Interest on Consumers’ Empowerment in Tanzania.
Improve TCAS’s ability to gather and interpret credible information on the views and concerns of consumers all over Tanzania and articulate this to decision-makers.
Establish and support a total 8 Zonal offices and work for establishment of 108 consumers clubs, four each in every administrative region in Tanzania, Zonal offices will oversee and support established consumers clubs activities in nearest vicinity.
Provide legal support on issues of public interest to individual Tanzania consumers when they face attack from manufacturers, service providers, distributors, the governments, and other international corporations.
Work closely with Consumers International to ensure that TCAS acquire assistance on capacity building from successful and large CI’s members.
To this end TCAS will:1. Achieve real change – in policy and practice – on selected consumers’ issues that matter to Tanzania consumers, with high levels of all stakeholders’ involvement in our campaigns.
2. Impart our staff with necessary skills and technical know-how locally and abroad with reputable organizations and institutions dealing with consumers’ rights promotion and protection.
3. Achieve consumers networking that will guarantee public communications, and awareness creation on all consumers’ issues.
4. Consolidate our standing as the leading independent national consumers association on consumer protection in Tanzania.
5. Implement, a resources permit, realistic and appropriate capacity-building programme focused on up to real consumers’ and partners’ problems
6. Provide best possible working conditions to attract, retain and develop professional, committed and innovative staff.

7. Help on bringing about a basic consumer protection legal framework that is conducive and acceptable with all stakeholders
8. Be accountable and transparent, complying with meaningful and strong NGO accountability standards to ensure strong and stable finances with carefully managed fixed costs within our core income.
Objective 4
Make markets accountable and responsive
It is claimed that more than 80% of consumers in Tanzanian suffer from lack of understanding of consumer rights. They remain vulnerable, they have no ability to claim their rights and a formidable platform that could make their voices’ heard is also lacking.
Within the TCAS strategies, there are endeavours plans to enable consumers to engage strategically with suppliers, the legal, regulatory agencies and institutional framework to make them more responsive to consumer’s needs and interests.
Our goals for 2007–2011 are to:TCAS will lobby through Fair Competition Commission (FCC) for the establishment of "The Tanzania Consumer and Competition Watchdog" under an independent NGO to suppliment FCC monitoring work on market behaviour and competitive conditions.
Campaign against and highlight unethical business practices in marketplaces.
Campaign publicly for compliance with meaningful and strong corporate accountability standards
Establish an "Annual Consumer Award to the best/bad Manufacturer, importer, distributor and service provider… of the year.
Work for series of high-quality, influential comparative research, strong accountability standards and promote better practices to local businesses which use to provide key products and services to Tanzania consumers.
Raise consumers’ awareness on the impact of sustainable consumption patterns and promotion of sector-specific environmental-management best practices.
To this end TCAS will:
Work as independent consumer/competition watch-dog in Tanzania market.
Use our global network to research and publicise consumer detriment resulting from marketplace abuses by international corporations.
Consumers’ opinion on the way businesses are behaving is one way of making their voices to be heard and the award will empower Tanzania consumers to a great extent;
Provide evidence of consumer concerns to business representative councils through dialogue aimed at changing corporate behaviour detrimental to consumers and, when appropriate, by supporting corporate behaviour favourable to consumers.
Encourage business companies to take a triple-bottom-line approach to their performance: sensitivity to standards, quality and environment – as well as economic impact of their operations
One way of strengthening business environment for Tanzania (BEST project) especially on the demand side
Discourage unsustainable practices and incentives for more sustainable practices, while avoiding potential negative effects to consumers.
TCAS finding for ways forward
This strategic plan was developed in 2007 with input from all of TCAS’s board members, individual consumers (3000 interviewed consumers) and key partner like Tanzania sectoral regulatory authorities and Consumers International. It is the framework against which TCAS will make choices about our priorities for action for the next five years from 2008 to 2012.
TCAS Staff members will turn these words into practical action plans and clear indicators every year, so that we can chart the progress that is being achieved.
The strategic plan will be a disciplined and flexible tool that will provide a clear focus for TCAS’s work while fostering an entrepreneurial and ambitious organisation.
We will continue to consult individual Tanzania consumer on the way forward TCAS should take during the next five years. And within the best possible understanding of the risks and uncertainties which surround to TCAS in executing its duties, TCAS will take the advantage of possible opportunities that can help Tanzania consumer movement have greater impact, grow and improve.
Above all, in everything we do, TCAS will strive to fulfil its mission through implementation of this strategic plan, proving TCAS’s value and effectiveness to implementing partners, and consumers all around Tanzania.
For more information about TCAS like; ministries, and other related activities kindly visit our website

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