Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CDTC) has punished 61 firms with fines totalling K11 million and directives in a drive to protect consumers and tame anti-competitive tendencies among traders.
Of the 61determined cases, 56 involved in unfair trading practices while five were of anti-competitive business practices.
Some of the firms found guilty and fined for bad conduct, deceptive advertising and labelling include First Capital Bank, Nedbank, Castel Malawi, Speedy’s Food Industries Ltd, Blantyre Dairy Limited, SupaPesa, Capital Foods Limited, Agora Limited and Natpack Industries Ltd.
In an interview after a media briefing yesterday in Lilongwe, CFTC acting executive director Apoche Itimu said the decisions were made in the best interest of consumers.
She said: “These decisions are very critical because consumers are always in the most vulnerable position on the market as compared to the suppliers and traders.
“We issue the orders and determinations, they are supposed to act as deterrent to those who violates such rights as provided for in the CFT Act.”
Itimu also said the commission was in the process of law review to repeal the 1998 CFT Act with a new law that would provide hefty fines for offenders.
She said they envisage to peg punishments to a total turnover of companies using a percentage that will be determined in the review process.
The commission has since ordered First Capital Bank to refund with interest K1 476 990 which was transferred from their bank account due to a weak and unreliable mobile banking application and pay a fine of K500 000 for violation of the CFT Act, and another K500 000 for refusing to furnish information requested by the commission.
Consumer rights activist John Kapito yesterday said consumers suffer at the hands of the industry and traders.
He said putting proper monitoring and inspection systems is key to ensuring that everyone is accountable for their actions on the market.
Kapito, who is executive director of Consumers Association of Malawi, said: “The behaviour of industries and traders leaves a lot to be desired. They engage in cheating and other anti-competitive tendencies to defraud consumers forgetting that buyers are drivers of their growth.
“I can tell you that with this cheating on consumers; the Buy Malawi Strategy will not work because consumers are frustrated big time.”
As part of the determination, the commission approved the acquisition of Dimakis Chickens Limited and part of Charles Stewart’s business assets by Central Poultry (2000) Ltd with conditions to be met. The commission also approved the acquisition of Zoona Transactions Limited by Remitix Limited and Mukuru Money Transfer.