"Implementation is key for the new consumer legislation," says Department to Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Maria Ntuli
5 March 2010
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Maria Ntuli, says the new Consumer Protection Act is a world class piece of legislation that will require world class implementation if it is to make any difference in the lives of the South African citizens.
Ntuli was delivering a keynote address at national Consumer Protection Law conference at the Gallagher Estate in Midrand yesterday. The conference was held under the theme “Changing the Consumer Protection Landscape in South Africa”.
“The Consumer Protection Act provides a framework to place consumer protection on the national agenda. The Act provides easy and simplified access to redress. But it is imperative that we give special attention to all the vulnerable consumers, particularly the low-income earners and those who live in remote areas, as well as the minors and senior citizens,” said Ntuli.
Ntuli added that one of the ways in which the new act would benefit consumers was that they would no longer be required to go to courts at great financial costs. Instead, consumers will be assisted through redress mechanisms established and promoted by initiatives such as the National Consumer Commission, National Consumer Tribunal, ombud schemes and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that will be accredited to deal with consumer rights and complaints.
The NGOs will play an important role and will be afforded support in activities such as the provision of consumer advice and educational activities, market monitoring, promotion of consumer rights and advocacy of consumer interest.
The conference was also addressed by the President of the Congress of the Traditional Leaders of South Africa, Chief Phathekile Holomisa, who spoke on community and traditional structures as consumer complaints points.
Holomisa said people who live in the rural areas, and those that are in the informal settlements of the urban areas, are the ones who bore the most brunt of violations of consumer rights. He said traditional leaders have an important role to play in educating people about their consumer rights because they are close to the people. He also said it was crucial that the new act was made available in all of the South African languages in order for everyone to understand how it will protect consumers.