Most businesses defy consumer charter
Most businesses or economic sectors would not adhere to the Namibian Consumer Protection Group (NCPG) charter if they can get away with it. The financial services sector has been the most responsive towards consumer rights due to the efforts of the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Namibia and Namfisa, says Milton Louw, volunteer director of the Namibian Consumer Protection Group.
Louw says a lack of appropriate legislation as well as consumer education programmes remain a challenge and therefore Namibia “needs a Consumer Act”.
The absence of consumer protection legislation in the country means that consumers are often exposed to unfair trade practices by businesses. In Namibia, consumers are exposed to discriminatory and unfair market practices, the proliferation of low quality and unsafe products, a lack of awareness of consumer rights, inadequate protection and weak enforcement capacity. Aggrieved consumers also have no form of recourse. In order to address the situation, groups such as the Namibia Consumer Trust (NCT) and NCPG were formed.
The NCPG, which is a non-profit organisation, assists aggrieved consumers by providing them with information on what action they could take and the correct person to communicate with.
The Namibian Consumer Protection Group campaigns for customer rights and focuses on illegal and unethical behaviour by Namibian companies.
The group was established in 2009 in order to share information about consumer issues with government, media and the public.
Louw, who is at the helm of NCPG, is responsible for keeping members informed about the present state of consumer legislation in Namibia, sharing information between the role players, informing the media about consumers’ problems as well as liaising with international consumer organisations.
The Namibia Competition Commission launched a study late last year which aims to explore the link between consumer protection and competition policy, as well as non-competition related aspects of consumer protection. A consumer division has also been established within the Ministry of Trade and Industry.