Monday, February 18, 2008

Commemoration of World Consumers Rights Day in Tanzania

Re: Invitation To participate on World Consumers’ Rights Day - 15th.March.2008

In response to the current consumer rights violation challenges in Tanzania, TCAS intend to organize consumers’ week, eventful consumers rights related activities days before the final day of commemorating for World Consumers Rights Day on 15th.March.2008.

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) was first observed on 15 March 1983 in US and UK, later in developed world, Egypt, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa just to mention some few and has since become an important occasion for mobilising citizen action under the leadership of the world consumers organization body known as ‘’Consumers International’’ (CI).

World Consumer Rights Day has its origins in former US President John F. Kennedy in his 15 March 1962 declaration to the US Congress. He said '’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.'’

In the same meeting, President Kennedy declared four basic consumer rights to US citizens which are valid even today, these rights are;-
Ø The right to safety
Ø The right to be informed
Ø The right to choose
Ø The right to be heard.

April.2007, TCAS; consumer Survey report revealed that, more than 80% of consumers in Tanzanian suffer from lack of understanding of their rights. They remain unaware, vulnerable, with no platform and ability to fight or claim for their rights.

Majority of Tanzania families live below poverty line with an average per capita gross national income (GNI) of less than $745 per year, this is to say they live on less than $2 per day. Imagine this little income - $2 per day consumers are spending on counterfeit products, and poor services, associated with a lot of cheating and poor practice from unscrupulous traders.

In campaigning for the rights of consumers across Tanzania, TCAS seeks to hold corporations to account for consumers’ needs and interest and persuade government actions to put consumer concerns first.

To this end, we are committed to act as a national watchdog: campaigning against any behaviour that threatens; ignores or abuses the principles of consumer protection; for instance;-

Ø TCAS wants to support government efforts on holding corporations to account and ensure for product safety and corporate responsibility are paramount.

Ø TCAS believes in sustainable access to essential goods and services, regardless of ability to pay.

Ø TCAS is working to put the rights of consumers at the heart of decision-making.

Ø TCAS is campaigning for an end to unethical and unsustainable production and consumption.

Ø TCAS is working toward raising awareness about purchasing choices through clear, engaging and accessible communication.

This year’s World Consumer Rights Day theme is about ‘’Junk food Generation- to stop marketing of unhealthy food’’.

What are junk foods? Are foods high in sugar, salt and fat? Due to confusing labelling and extensive promotions, it can be difficult to tell what food or drink is healthy and what food or drink is unhealthy.

Consumers International (CI) has played an integral part in the passing of a highly significant World Health Organization (WHO) resolution announced at the World Health Assembly (WHA), which took place from 14-23 May 2007 in Geneva.

Through the lobbying of countries by CI and its member organisations, CI achieved a resolution that has committed the WHO to:

“Promote responsible marketing including the development of a set of recommendations on marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children”.

The WHO has until May 2009 to develop a set of proposals on the marketing of food and drinks to children. CI believes that this should be an international code restricting marketing of unhealthy food.

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society intend to have a week of eventful consumer related activities to mark the week before the final event on 15th.March.2008; for instance;-
On 7th.March.2008; TCAS will give a press release on the intention of conducting a press conference on 10th.March.2008 and round table meeting on 13th.March.2008 all these efforts aim to sensitize people about marking World Consumers Rights Day on 15th.March.2008.

On 10th.March.2008; TCAS will hold a press conference to extend an invitation to the member of general public, media house, and members of the professional bodies like Medical Doctors from Muhimbili, Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) to talk about their efforts to curb Junk food Generation and to determine a way forward for this campaign. At Habari Maelezo from 09.00 am to 12.00noon.

On 13th.March.2008; TCAS will conduct a Round Table meeting to celebrate WCRD with the focus on consumers’ empowerment and awareness creation on consumers’ rights and remedies on the one hand, and on the other way sounding a note of warning about Junk food Generation at Landmark Hotel from 09.00 am to 16.00hours.

Participants include members of from the media house, the public, representatives from sectoral regulatory authorities, key government officials, medical doctors, NGOs such as NOLA, LHRC, TAMWA, TGNP and other civil societies.

On 15th.March.2008, at this final event TCAS will display, and distribute T-shirts, posters and pamphlets about consumers’ rights in Tanzania.

TCAS will hold peaceful rally from Kariakoo to Mnazi Mmoja grounds, from 8.00am to 10.30am, later to make a key word on World Consumers’ Rights Day at Mnazi Mmoja grounds at 10.30am. TCAS management, group representatives, and a guest of honor- honorable Minister for Economic planning and empowerment will deliver speeches.

The main message to mark the day will focus on awareness creation on Junk food Generation through out the final event and through media coverage such as newspapers, radio and television.

Other Recent themes promoted by Consumers International for World Consumer Rights Day include:

2007 - The theme was; ‘’Unethical Drug Promotion’’
2006 - The theme was; ‘’Sustainable Access of Energy for All’’
2005 - The theme was; ‘’Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is a problem - Get your food labelled’’
2004 - The theme was; ‘’Clean Water and Sustainable Sanitation for All’’.
2003 - The theme was; ‘’Corporate control of the food chain: the GM link’’
2002 - The theme was; ‘’Consumer Representation’’.
2001 - The theme was; ‘’Corporate Accountability’’
2000 - The theme was; ‘’Genetically Modified Foods ‘’

TAZAMA Arts group will perform drama and comedies relating to problems encountering Tanzania consumers to mark the event.

TCAS will publish and share consumer survey reports and information about the latest studies, findings and testimony about problems Tanzania consumers are facing.

We real need your presence so that we can up date Tanzania consumers and equip news editors with information to address these issues squarely in order to turn around the scourge of junk food, counterfeit, substandard, poor quality goods and services that is associated with lack of consumer awareness particularly to poor consumers every where in Tanzania.

I am delighted to invite you to attend these events as explained above

TCAS management team has invited Honorable Minister for Finance and Economic Planning to be the guest of honor.

We are looking forward for your presence. Please your confirmation to attend will be of greate help through this email;

Together we can make a difference.

Daimon Jim Mwakyembe
Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

Govt told: enact law to enforce observation


Front Page article in Business Times of 17.01.2008

By Times Reporter,

THE Government in Dar has been urged to enact a law that would perforce require businesses to have insurance cover in favour of their customers/consumers.

According to Bernard Kihiyo, the executive director of the Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS), “insurance services are today needed in the Tanzanian market more than at any time in the country’s history. Even domestic businesses are morally bound – and should also be legally bound – to apply best practices at all times and under all circumstances if they are to be effective in the global economy.

” In that regard, he said, proper legislation and regulatory frameworks are needed, to go hand-in-hand with insurance policies which cover the greatest possible majority of consumers – complete with the right and adequate compensation schemes.

“Up to the moment,” Kihiyo said, “there is not a single firm which has already established such a scheme – although there are many consumers who routinely face various challenges, but are invariably denied their (consumer) rights.”

He also insisted on “consumer education as an important part of the process ... and is a basic consumer right that must be assured for the general public. Such education should be introduced at the school and college levels.”

This would increase consumers’ understanding of their rights, and would also build consumers’ ability to pursue their rights more effectively. The effort at consumer education would make consumers’ voices heard far and wide, loud and clear.

There also would be increased awareness amongst consumers in particular, and the public in general, this facilitating accountability and responsiveness to consumers’ needs and interests.

Kihiyo said “education, any education in fact, is a lifelong process of constantly acquiring relevant information, knowledge and skills. “Consumer education is an important part of this process and is a basic consumer right that must be insisted upon by the general public and, as such, should be introduced at the school and college levels,” Kihiyo stressed.

TCAS intends to introduce annual Awards for the ‘Best Manufacturer,’ ‘Best Supplier,’ ‘Best Importer,’ et cetera, as adjudged in accordance with accepted standards and the views of consumers countrywide. According to Kihiyo, the Awards scheme would give back to businesses the confidence they need for business conduct par excellence from Tanzanian consumers in particular, and entire communities at large.

“The Awards system aims at encouraging 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.

“This Awards Scheme will keenly watch how businesses are applying responsive business practices that can create value chains for the betterment of consumers – and that would help business firms to become more cost-effective, accountable and responsive to consumers’ needs and interests,” the consumer

Source; Front Page; the Business Times of 17.01.2008

Domestic consumers lobby digs up new drive

By Mgeta Mganga

2008-02-18 08:49:25
The Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) has plans to introduce annual awards to honour manufacturers, suppliers, importers, operators and service providers who would have demonstrated agility to uphold consumers rights in Tanzania.

The awards would become full swing by the end of this year and TCAS Executive Director; Bernard Kihiyo confirmed to this paper last week that this programme would also create greater possibilities for using corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and business best practice frameworks to enhance private sector interest in consumers protection.

There are indications that the Consumers International (CI) would support the initiative by providing technical and consultation inputs into making the event successful.

On his part, the TCAS chairman, Daimon Mwakyembe said the annual competition would tune-up the attention of businesses to the fact that consumers were watching companies activities, actions and behaviour as to how best they are serving consumers interests and needs.

According to Mwakyembe, the competition would also encourage businesses to invest in broader social values whose benefits go beyond profit. He explained that for businesses to flourish there must be symbiotic relationships between supply and demand sides.

In recent times, he said, investors were apparently becoming more concerned to invest in company`s that are seen to be acting in a socially responsible manner. Transparency and a commitment to responsible business could give a company an advantage in securing public contracts.

The award winners would be those that would have objectively demonstrated their resolve to boosting sustainable consumption, including meeting the needs of present and future generations for goods and services in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Mwakyembe, the immediate past Director General of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) said the awards would also provide feedback to businesses about their conduct from the point of view of Tanzanian consumers. ``The goal is to work toward addressing consumers right for quality products as well as getting best deal for the value of their money``, he said.

The Annual Award will involve strong consumers participation in a transparent way. Consumers views would be collected through postal mails, e-mails, text messages, and interactive radio and television bulletins.

The lobby group claims that 80 percent of consumers in Tanzanian do suffer from lack of awareness about what rights they were naturally entitled to enjoy from suppliers of goods and services. TCAS provides an advocacy platform that would make the voices of consumers heard and hence make markets work better for both urban and rural consumers in Tanzania, doing so since 2005.

· SOURCE: Guardian