14 March 2010
South Africans should celebrate World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March by getting familiar with their new legal rights and empowering themselves with knowledge, according to the National Consumer Forum.
“2010 is a big year for consumers, as the Consumer Protection Act comes into effect,” said NCF chairman Thami Bolani. “But if we don’t understand what it means, and how to make use of it, it remains just words on paper.”
A lack of knowledge about our rights remains the main challenge facing South Africa’s consumers, he said. “Despite having so much ‘cutting edge’ legislation, we often fail to tell ordinary people about it, and so it is not implemented at grassroots level and many people don’t benefit as they should,” said Bolani.
Access to knowledge
He said access to knowledge has become the main focus of the NCF, an independent consumer education and advocacy NGO. The NCF’s first Access to Knowledge (A2K) centre is now operating in the rural town of KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga, having been officially opened by Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Maria Ntuli last month.
The centre will offer financial literacy training, debt counselling, entrepreneurship skills, health and nutrition education, and computer training. A survey is also being carried out in the Thembisile Hani municipality on the availability of libraries, computers and internet access in schools in the area.
Your money, your rights
The global consumer rights theme of 2010 – promoted by the global agency Consumers International – is ‘Your Money, Your Rights’.
Joost Martens, head of CI, said consumer groups around the world have been working hard to help protect consumers from unfair contracts and abusive finance charges, as well as to help secure basic access to finance for the many who currently go without.
“World Consumer Rights Day 2010 is all about drawing attention to this crucial cause,” said Martens