Consumer Protection Department
The Eswatini Competition Commission is the only organisation in Eswatini that is empowered to directly protect consumers in respect to all aspects of trade. There are other sector specific organisations that are tasked with protecting consumers in respect to matters related to that sector. The Commission has a function to cooperate with these sector specific organisations to ensure protection of consumer rights and promotion of consumer welfare.
The Consumer Protection Department is a department responsible for promoting consumer welfare by seeking consumer complaints redress, initiating and conducting investigations to ensure no unfair trading practices happen, educating traders and consumers regarding their obligations and rights respectively, and providing advisory opinions as and when requested.
The relationship between consumers and traders is such that the market power is not balanced and almost always favours the trader. This department therefore, focusses mainly on issues dealing with consumers and is dedicated to ensure that there is no unfair consumer treatment by traders, so that some balance is introduced in the relationship between buyer and seller.
The Commission through the Competition Act, 2007 and the Fair Trading Act, 2001 has the mandate to ensure, promote and protect consumer welfare. Other legislative enactments that make provision for consumer protection include the Communications Act, 2013, the Standards and Quality Act, 2003 and the Consumer Credit Act, 2016. The Commission, through this department also has the mandate to enforce all consumer rights including those provided for by other legislation, related to consumer welfare.
Through the Consumer Protection Department, the Commission –
- Accepts and addresses consumer complaints for resolution;
- Initiates investigations of consumer complaints on behalf of consumers;
- Undertakes enquiries and activities generally aimed at protecting consumer rights and advocates for consumer welfare;
- Educates stakeholders about consumer welfare and consumer rights, in both Eswatini and Internationally; and
- Actively advocates for consumer welfare.
This department is also involved in international activities that provide tools on how best to ensure protection for consumers and provides a platform to co-operate with other countries regarding consumer protection.
The international organisations to which the Commission is affiliated, to achieve this aim are-
- UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development;
- COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern African Countries); and
- ICPEN (International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network). The Commission is working on securing partnership with this network.