The New Consumer Protection Act: Has The Government Gone Too Far?

Apr 06, 11 The New Consumer Protection Act: Has The Government Gone Too Far?

Posted by in Economics

The first of April 2011 sees the South African consumer Protection Act finally being rolled out. The Act now means South African consumers are in the fortunate position of being the most protected consumers in the world. Under the new Act the interests of the average South African consumer now enjoy greater protection than those of any other consumer in the world. This is a result of the ambit of the act being so wide, covering a large swathe of South African commercial activity and effectively making the Act a Bill of Rights for South African consumers. The question is how far ahead has government thought about the potential impact the Act will have on the South African commercial environment? It will protect South African consumers like never before, but the main question one has to ask is, at what cost? Beginning with some of the positive side effects, we can see how the Act has been designed with the common South African consumer in mind. The first is that the new act makes provision for an implied six month guarantee on all products purchased in South Africa, regardless of their purpose or price. In addition, the new mandatory guarantee still applies regardless of any existing guarantees the supplier already has in place. The second (and my personal favourite) is the fact that should any citizen desire to avoid direct marketing they now have the power to do so. An example of direct marketing would be those phone calls that always arrive when you are busy eating dinner, asking you if you want to buy life insurance. The Act prevents this by now providing one with the option to place your personal details on an ‘exclusion register’, which effectively bans all direct marketing firms from targeting you. Therefore, if your name is on the list and an enthusiastic insurance salesman calls you up asking you if you would like to buy a new policy, that constitutes an offence under the Act and the company...

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Sudan’s Eye In The Sky

To my surprise I recently came across an article on the Sudanese referendum which was unlike all the other commentary I had been reading up until now, in that it serves as an interesting example of a situation in which celebrities are becoming involved in a cause, and their actions seem to be both heartfelt and may hold a genuine promise of producing some meaningful results.

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The Freedom to be Critical

I recently had the privilege of being able to attend an event which will undoubtedly mark one of the most prestigious high-level diplomatic visits by a foreign leader in recent years, especially as far as the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation is concerned. The event in question was the speech given by the visiting Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, on the 18th of November, at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria, a mere stone’s throw from the Union buildings. The event was so important because it is said Mr. Jinping will soon become the premier of China, replacing Hu Jintao. This visit therefore marks deepening ties between China and South Africa, because no one would send the future president of one of the world most powerful nations to negotiate with the representatives of another nation if that nation was an inconsequential partner. The next day, the event continued when I then went to take part in the Seminar celebrating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), held in the Sinosteel building in Sandton. The thing that struck me through out these proceedings across two full days, particularly on the Chinese side, was the complete lack of critical engagement with the issues at hand. This was surprising in some ways because the Chinese contingent which included some very senior government officials and a large group of top academics who are supposed to be ‘experts on Africa’. The academics, in my opinion, were the most interesting component of the official proceedings for the very fact that this lack of objectivity is essentially counter to the very nature of being an academic. As a large portion of the Chinese academics present were social scientists, this was even more alarming, as if any group of academics are particularly renowned for their critical engagement with issues of the day, it’s social scientists. However the Chinese government official’s role in the process was understandably limited, and to some extent can be, if not...

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Reflections on National Service

We can no longer neglect our National Service veterans, or those individuals who were members of the various armed struggle groups who fought to bring about the end of Apartheid. We as a nation have to address this issue, not only for their sake, but for our own.

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