ZABS and the Consumer
Part v of the Standards Act CAP 416 of 1994 gives provision to protect the consumer against defective or dangerous commodities.
Under this part, the Minister is empowered to prohibit or restrict the use of any commodity found to be dangerous or defective. This is made in the public interest, public safety and environment.
The commodity so declared as defective or dangerous shall be withdrawn from distribution and recalled by the supplier at the supplier's cost and the affected customer shall be compensated.
The Zambia Bureau of Standards implements the Standards Act Cap 416 of the laws of Zambia. The Act mandates ZABS to regulate sub standard products. However, this only applies to all products covered by the National Standards that have been declared compulsory. These are inspected for compliance to the requirements outlined in the standards.
Cardinal to the work of standardization is the consumer rights to safety and the right to redress. Consumers must be protected against flaws or hidden dangers in products or services that they buy. They also have the right to physical safety while they are buying.
The consumer has the right to purchase a product that is fit for use and if there are any defects, they can return it to the supplier. Ideally, all products that are manufactured should have a quality assurance sign- off on every product to ensure that it is in working order prior to leaving the manufacturing facility. Services on offer should be quality checked by a quality management function by means of conducting satisfaction surveys, auditing data captured by employees, conducting call assessments, etc.
Zambia Bureau of Standards has on offer certification services for products and quality management systems that are third party attestations that the product and services on offer are of good quality. This provides the consumer with greater confidence that the product or service on offer has met the requirements of a given standard.
In order to protect the consumer at large, Zambia Bureau of Standards where it is deemed that certain products if left unchecked may endanger the health of the consumer and the safety of the environment, recommends to the Minister of Commerce Trade & Industry to declare compulsory the applicable standard so that the Bureau may enforce it. This is done with due respect to the World Trade Organisation rules which advocate for fair trade and prevents countries from allowing too many compulsory standards as these may stifle the free flow of goods and services. Compulsory standards have the potential to be used as 'Technical Barriers to Trade'. Currently, ZABS has developed over 2000 standards and of these 48 are compulsory. Quite naturally, most of these fall under the category of food stuffs and industrial products.
When you are sold an inferior product or service, you have the right to go back to the seller and demand a replacement or a refund.
Any consumer rights that have been violated by a provider of a product or service should be brought to the attention of the relevant authority that governs that particular type of supplier. For example, a violation in the area of medicines should be brought to the attention of the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority(ZAMRA). Consumers must do the necessary research to find out who they should approach with respect to a consumer rights violation.
Zambia Bureau of Standards will address violations that pertain to products falling under mandatory regulation. Currently, the following are some of the products under which consumers may address complaints with ZABS:
Lead Acid Batteries, Poultry Feed, Pig Feed, Cattle Feed, Toilet Soap, Laundry Soap, Petroleum Jelly, Industrial Safety Footwear, Shoe Polish-specification, safety of Household & Similar Electrical Appliances, Maize Meal, Emulsion Paints for Interior and Exterior Use -specification Laundry, Refined Edible Vegetable Oil, House Hold Dish Washing Liquid Detergent , Reflex-Reflecting Vehicle Number Plates, High Gloss Synthetic Enamel Paint - specification, Opaque Beer, High Gloss Synthetic Paint- specification, Automotive gasoil(diesel fuel), Road Tank Vehicles for Petroleum-Based Flammable Liquids - specification, Illuminating Kerosene, Bottled Water, Unleaded Petrol (Gasoline) for motor vehicles, Clear Beer, Compound Fertilizers, Wheat Flour, Primary Dry Batteries, Rubber Condoms, The Handling, Storage and Distribution of Liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG) in Domestic, Commercial, and Industrial Installations. Transportation of LPG in Bulk by road- Code of Practice, Lubricating Oils for Automotive Gear Oils and Industrial Gear Oils for Open Gears and enclosed Gears, Fruit Flavored drinks, Plugs and Socket Outlets, Adaptors and Connection Units, specifications for rewirable 13A fused plugs, Plugs and Socket Outlets, Adaptors and Connection Units. Part 2- Switched and Unswitched Sockets- Outlets, Plugs and Socket Outlets, Adaptors and Connection Units, Code of Practice for Inspection of Used Textile Products -Salaula, Code of Practice for Inspection and Testing of Used Motor Vehicle for Road Worthiness, Fertilizer-Urea, Ammonium Nitrate & Calcium Ammonia Nitrate, Peanut Butter, Cement and more.