from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE is devising standard quality guidelines amid a lack of such policies compromising the quality of products.
This dearth has seen the Southern African country falling behind fellow nations in the region in terms of competitiveness of goods produced.
The government, through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, is drawing the standards national quality guidelines.
It is consulting stakeholders in order to come up with a comprehensive policy.
Riyana Chibanda, a director for quality assurance in the ministry, said the country had since drafted the Zimbabwe Technical Regulatory Bill in the quest to come up with a Quality and Standards Communication Strategy and Implementation Plan.
“Government has developed a National Quality Policy that seeks to address challenges that have existed from the silo development of quality programmes by ministries, regulators and agencies,” Chibanda said.
President Emerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet last year approved the first National Quality Policy after realisation the quality of goods produced in the country did not match those made in the region.
Government departments, ministries and agencies have been developing their own standards without an overall national benchmark.
The silo mentality affected development of relevant quality institutions.
While the country has the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), which certifies products and services, a lack of national quality policy makes it difficult to implement and enforce some standards.
“As a result, the quality of goods manufactured in Zimbabwe has been aging behind our regional counterparts with adverse implications on trade especially access to export markets, consumer protection from substandard and often harmful products and innovation,” Chibanda explained.
The prevalence of substandard goods, also comes amid concerns these could hamper Zimbabwe a competitiveness with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Never Katiyo, Director for Legal Services at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, believes quality standards would also help the country attain its vision 2030.
The blueprint seeks to propel Zimbabwe to an upper middle income economy.
“At the moment we have voluntary standards. With the coming in of the Consumer Protection Act, citizens will have more rights in terms of what they want to enjoy and standards are going to be regulated at national level,” Katiyo added.
He said fragmented information also affects frustrated investors, thereby isolating the country.
“A one stop information centre for standards is key,” added Katiyo.
– CAJ News