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

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