By Nyasha N Mukapiko
Zimbabwe once known for its vibrant manufacturing sector has become a dumping ground of products coming from outside our borders especially South Africa and China. This can be attributed to the liquidly crunch as it has become a consuming nation with no production taking place.
The worsening of the economy has been blamed on poor economic policies that have contributed significantly to the dysfunction of the economy.
Consumers have been left vulnerable as most products imported from China are sold without translation to local languages. Some of these products could be potentially hazardous or cause allergies to unsuspecting consumers.
This is common at the newly Long Cheng Plaza complex in Belvedere in one of the biggest Chinese supermarket in the country, Horizon Ivato.
When the Sentinel visited the supermarket, customers were busy with their shopping while first time shoppers were dismayed with the prominence given to Chinese goods in the supermarket. Some expressed disappointment with the retailer for selling goods labeled in Chinese.
“This is very bad, how do I know the effectiveness of this product before I use it. This is bogus because I have to buy it to see how it works, I can’t read the instruction, and it’s in Chinese”. Tinashe Mawende complained.
Another customer commented saying it was a poor marketing technique as many locals would not understand Chinese jargon.
“This is poor marketing strategy, how can they even advertise their products, if they are to boost their sales, it’s not only about the products as well as till machines they are programmed in Chinese. I even asked the cashiers how they managed to operate them and she said we used guesswork”, Oscar Mutepfa showed his concern.
In a bid to get answers from the management, this reporter spoke with a lady who requested not to be named, and asked her how consumers would understand labels on Chinese goods. She said the staffers were happy to explain to customers who asked.
“This one, it’s a washing powder and it only works like Ariel (comparing it to a locally manufactured washing powder), every customer who needs help can come to us for help. We cannot translate these products because we are importing them from the manufacturer labeled in Chinese like this”, Grace explained fighting to avoid more questions.
A shop assistant, who chose to remain anonymous, said they were facing challenges with some customers on translation of most products labeled in the Chinese language.
“Customers are now getting used to it, however some are coming inquiring further information and we interpret for them. Other obstacles being faced include the delaying of clients as they seek more information, we have already launched a complaint with the management if they can label their product into the local language and they agreed to address the matter as soon as possible”, the shop assistant said.
There are other goods coming into the country labeled in Aramaic especially soaps and fruit juices. These products may cause health complications to consumers but the responsible authorities seem to be sleeping on duty.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) director Mr. Roselyn Siyachitema said they were aware of wrongly labeled products which had flooded the market.
“Yes we are aware of such products, we understand that its infringement of consumer rights and we have been doing consultations with the responsible ministry, right now we cannot do anything but we have to wait until conference that is to be held on the 18th of February were the issue is going to be discussed”, the CCZ director said.
Standard Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) Director General Mrs Eve Gadzikwa refused to comment on the matter, referring all the questions to marketing department who were not available for comment.
There was no clarity from the Ministry of Trade on what the regulations say about goods labeled in languages foreign to locals .