By Tetiwe Mweemba
The Competition and Consumer Protection Unity CCPC says it resolved a total of 1,458 cases and successfully recovered one million Eight Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Nine Hundred and Five Kwacha and Sixty Three Ngwee in product services refunds and replacements in the first half of 2019.
Speaking at a press briefing, CCPC Executive Director Chilufya Sampa said the retail trade had the most number of complaints with 163 cases primarily driven by cases of defective goods especially electrical and electronic products followed by the insurance sector with 265 cases.
Mr. Sampa said insurance complaints were mainly on unsolicited insurance policies, unpaid matured policies, failure to stop deductions once a policy matures and misrepresentations.
He added that other notable complaints were from the banking and microfinance sectors accounting for 132 and 116 cases respectively
“Cases in the two sectors were mainly extension of loan tenures, failure to stop deductions when a loan was fully paid and wrongly deliquescence listings on the credit reference bureau,” Mr. Sampa said.
And Mr. Sampa also announced that the Transport sector is one which has continued to record consumer complaints.
“While there has been a slight reduction of cases being reported from the Intercity Bus Terminus, consumers continue to suffer from misrepresentation, delayed departures and bulling. To counter this, the commission has continued its education campaigns tailored for the sector and has pinned posters in most public places warning consumers of such conduct. We hope and trust that by the end of the year fewer cases from the transport sector will be reporters,” he said.
And during the period under review, Mr. Sampa said the Commission conducted inspections of 404 trading premises in 35 districts in collaboration with local councils and the Ministry of Health (MoH) inspectors across all the ten provinces.
He announced that goods worth fifty eight thousand six hundred and eleven kwacha twenty five ngwee were confiscated and destroyed in various parts of the country.
The commission said that the directorate of mergers and monopolies received fifty four merger notifications against 51 received in the same period in 2018 which represents a 5.9 percent increase in merger notifications compared to the first half on the year 2018.
He says 39 out of 54 were closed indicating a 72 percent efficiency rate on the closed cases.
“Of the 39 cases closed, the services sector received the highest number of merger transactions with nine recorded in the first half of 2019, while the mining sector and agriculture sector recorded five each, the energy sector recorded four, the real estate and manufacturing recorded four each. The information communications and technology ICT sector recorded three mergers while the financial and tourism sectors each recorded two transactions with the transport sector recording one,” Mr. Sampa said.
He added that the approximate value of pledged investments in Zambia through mergers received by the commission in the period under review was USD20, 950,000 with over two thousand direct and indirect jobs created and over five hundred jobs maintained through the transactions.
Mr. Sampa said the commission investigated 34 restrictive business practice cases in the said period in various sectors including hospitality services, finance, agriculture and information communication technology ICT, with the commission closing a total of ten cases further noting that a good number of companies were engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.
“This is mainly in relation to companies signing agreements with restrictive clauses. It is for this reason that the commission has embarked on a campaign to invite the business community with agreements that appear to be anti-competitive to lodge an application for either notification or exemption on the agreement. The Commission would like to further advise the business community who are in doubt about the nature of their contracts or agreements that they have entered into, to consult with the commission and seek clarity. This will enable the commission to review the clauses in the agreements and guide businesses accordingly especially with regards to compliance with the act,” Mr. Sampa explained.