Fake products: consumers at the mercy of business

Shoppers might have seen products bearing these names: Mike for Nike, Addidios for Addidas, Philip for Phillips. These fake designer labels are common on clothing accessories and electrical gadgets where manufacturers are making a killing out copying originals.

When shelves were empty a few years ago, consumers bought whatever they could lay their hands on.
When shelves were empty a few years ago, consumers bought whatever they could lay their hands on.

The list is endless and has recently been extended to foodstuffs and medical products.

During the past few years consumers got used to buying from any shop as long as they could lay their hands on basic goods – without even looking at quality.

But since dollarisation, goods which had disappeared started trickling in especially from neighbouring countries and the far east. The market is now dominated by foreign products of poor quality.

A recent report by the Zimbabwe Economic Society says local consumers are at the mercy of business and service providers due to exorbitant prices and generally poor goods which have flooded the market.

Liberalization of the economy has arrested runaway inflation and improved availability of goods and services, but it has worsened the plight of consumers due to the proliferation of goods of questionable durability, says the report.

There are no restrictions or controls on the quality of imports. As a result, genetically modified foodstuffs found their way in.

“Zhingzhong, as Chinese products are known, most of them of dubious durability also flooded the market,” it says.

ZES president, Lovemore Kadenge, said it was imperative that the government address viability challenges facing local industries.

“There is need to promote development of both the informal and formal sectors through policy incentives to boost production of local products. The quality of goods and services requires tight monitoring to protect consumers and industries from sub-standard imports,” he said.

A senior government official, who requested anonymity, castigated the Look East Policy as the major culprit. The issue is that these imports from our “friends in the east” get onto the shelves without undergoing proper testing, she said.

Customers are not happy and blamed the situation on the inefficiency of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

“It seems that the Council is sleeping on duty as consumers are being held at ransom by unscrupulous business people,” said Muchineripi Manyowa of Highfields. Another consumer implored the authorities to join hands and rein in the business sector. “It is high time that CCZ together with police and health officials inspect products before they get onto our shelves. They should impound those found on the wrong side of the law,” said Nyarai Manjoro of Mbare.

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