Thursday, June 19, 2008

200 students in higher learning institutions team up to protect consumers

By Mgeta Mganga
More than 200 students from local higher learning institutions have teamed up to protect consumers against substandard products being sold in the country.

Speaking to this paper during the first meeting which discussed consumer rights held in Dar es Salaam last week, Ali Suleiman, a Second Year student at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said the team was formed to educate the public on the effects of substandard products.

The students are from University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, Institute of Finance Management, College of Business Education (CBE) and Dodoma University. The meeting was organised by the Dar es Salaam based Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) and attracted more than 150 students.

He said the acts of violation of consumers` rights have been increasing and they intended to educate them on the same. Follow this link;

Cross section of University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) students, Teachers, TCAS Chairman and Executive Director who attended mobilization meeting on 31st.May.2008 at UDSM

``We have been witnessing a lot of violation of consumer rights in almost every thing starting from food to clothes. Unfortunately they do not have a place to present their complaints to,`` he noted. Suleiman, said students want to be part of the consumers` lobby in protecting their rights once they are violated.

Speaking at the same meeting, Dr Rose Shayo, from the Institute of Development Studies (UDSM), thanked the students for their decision but insisted about education on fake goods. She said many consumers do not understand fake goods, adding that intensive education is needed to help them.

``Many people do not take trouble to read expiry dates of products or cannot distinguish the fake from genuine ones, so we need to educate them,`` she said. She said even affected people do not know where to complain as they end up lamenting or take the unnecessary costs. Dr Shayo urged academics from all higher learning institutions to join the bandwagon and defend the consumers.

For his part, the TCAS chairman, Daimon Mwakyembe, said the society intends to conduct more campaigns to educate the public on the effects of substandard products through various ways. The lobby group claims that 80 per cent 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.

In recent times, he said, investors were apparently becoming more concerned to invest in companies 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.

Mwakyembe, the immediate past Director General of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) said the goal is to work toward addressing consumers` right for quality products as well as getting best deal for the value of their money. Since 2005, TCAS has been providing an advocacy platform that would make the voices of consumers heard and hence make markets work better both for those in urban and rural areas.

· SOURCE: The Guardian through the following link

Some few media coverage of consumer rights violation in Tanzania

The issue of consumer protection in Tanzania has become acute especially since the liberalisation of the Tanzania economy in the late 1980s. Since then there is poor link between producers and consumers.

Tanzania Consumers do lack reliable and timely information; they are unaware of existing institutional mechanisms for their rights protection after abolition of state controlled economy established through Arusha declaration in 1967.

One of Tanzania state controlled icons found in Arusha.

Only 9% of Tanzania consumers are ready to actively seek protection of their rights by challenging manufacturers, sellers, or state bodies for providing them with products or services of insufficient quality.

As a result, the market is full of unsafe and low quality goods and services to the degree of leading to the presence of more globalization economy losers than winners.

Some few media evidence of Consumer’s rights violation in Tanzania Market
a) Mwananchi, 23rd.April.2007, Swahili newspaper had a title; Fake malaria drugs; kill many Tanzanians.
b) Sunday Citizen 10th.Dec.2006, had the article with the title; Many Tanzanians not fully aware of their rights.
c) The Guardian dated 11th July2007, for example, reported that banned HIV/AIDS life prolonging drug –EMTRI 30 - 40 from India that was disqualified by the WHO and its importation banned by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, was still circulating in Kisarawe district, Coast region despite an outcry by anti-AIDS activists.
d) The Citizen of 28th,July.2007, had a title; ‘’In for an injection, out with a limp’’ some people come out of the injection room with a abscess only shows up several weeks later; others come out with disabilities for life.
e) The Guardian of 19.August.2007; had the title ‘’Fake goods impedes producers - Producers are deeply alarmed by the flood of counterfeit products in the local market harming quality and undercut their efforts to thrive.
f) The Guardian of 12.Sept.2007; reported that; Bulk of Kariakoo imported goods fake - about 50 per cent of all imported goods from China and sold in Kariakoo shops in Dar es Salaam are counterfeit

g) The Guardian of 04.Nov.2007; Fake Medicines Pose Big Threat-Counterfeit Medicines In Tanzania; the story continued
i. In August 1999, fake Metakelfin labelled as a genuine product from the original manufacturer, Pharmacia and Upjohn, was found in circulation in some pharmacies in the country.
ii. Laboratory analysis confirmed that the counterfeit Metakelfin actually contained paracetamol. In May 2000, counterfeit Ampicillin capsules (250mg) were found circulating in some retail pharmacies.
iii. Laboratory analysis confirmed the capsules contained potato starch. In June 2001, expired Chloroquine Injection (from an unregistered Indian company) was relabeled as Quinine Dihydrochloride Injection 600mg/2ml from a company in Cyprus.
iv. In January 2005, fake Gentrisone Cream (a product of Shin Poong, South Korea) was reported. In this case, the active ingredient was replaced with hand and body lotion.

h) The Guardian of 08.Nov.2007; had the title; Consumer awareness is no laughing matter.
i) The Business Times of 06.01.2008; had the title; Stakeholders urge for more awareness education.
j) Nipashe of 14th.March.2008; had the title; Importation of counterfeit goods is a threat to consumers. More than 80% of Tanzania consumers are not aware of their rights…
k) Guardian of 27th.March.2008; had the title; Vision 2025: Shall we achieve `Green Revolution`? The prices of fertilisers and farming implements remain higher due to cheating by the distributors of fertilisers.
k. Uhuru, a Swahili newspaper of 4th.April.2008, had front page story with the title, ‘’Expired toothpaste chemicals were found for Tanga Sabuni Detergent’’-The chemicals were meant for making a famous toothpaste in the country – Aha

One of main TCAS goal is to support government efforts by creating opportunities for poor Tanzania consumers to take part in the economy and in the expanding market and thereby realize their potentials being translated into actual strategy on how to make investment climate for Tanzania conducive for all stakeholders in the economy including government, producers, investors and consumers.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Call for Sullivan Summit to bring lasting benefits

09:12:43 By Mgeta Mganga
The government and private sector are challenged to ensure that the coming Leon Sullivan Summit brings long-term benefits to the country. Sullivan Summit would be held in Arusha early next month amidst expectations that lots of business deals would be sealed between Tanzania`s companies and their US counterparts.

Speaking to this paper in Dar es Salaam last week, the executive director of Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society(TCAS), Bernard Kihiyo, on the picture left said Tanzania needs to foresee and put on the drawing board all important issues that are expected to be explored during the grand business event,
this time labeled `Summit of the Life Time?.

In his view, there was a need for Tanzania`s business experts to come up with practical business approaches that could be put to work as soon when the Sullivan Summit was over, targeting to develop people and the country at large over the longer runs.

``This will make the intended Sullivan Summit`s goals be met and positively benefit people and the country,`` he said. One of the key goals of Summit is to bring together the world`s political and business leaders, delegates representing national and international civil and multinational organisations, and members of academic institutions in order to focus attention and resources on Africa`s economic and social development.

The other motive to this summit is the belief that the development of Africa is a matter of global partnerships, that Africa`s Diaspora and Friends of Africa are active participants in Africa?s development.

``I am quite excited and have the passion to see Africans are starting to draw a picture of Africa in twenty, thirty, years to come? we can start thinking of what changes can be expected, which direction to take, what kind of investments are required and what approach to be taken to arrive at the intended goal of developing the continent and its people``, he said.

When establishing the Foundation, The Reverend Leon Sullivan had set global principles of social responsibility to the corporate world, aimed at improving human rights, social justice and economic fairness in the conduct of business.

``I hope no one would like to see Africa with irresponsible business, who are robbing peoples` abilities to live their dreams by selling substandard products and poor services``, he said. In order for companies to survive, he said, they require greater efficiency and cost saving, technological improvement, new manufacturing techniques and strict control of production costs.

But he cautioned the search for profitability should not compromise on efforts to protect the interests of consumers and promote competition as much as possible in order to arrive at stable prices and improve quality and quantity of goods and services.

SOURCE: Guardian of 2008-05-17