Mr. Gerald Chizinga, the Executive Director of the Zambia Compulsory Standards Agency (ZCSA), addressed the media today during a briefing to unveil the preliminary findings of the ongoing National Open Market Surveillance Inspections taking place across the nation.
Mr. Chizinga began by emphasizing the critical role of the ZCSA in administering, maintaining, and enforcing compulsory standards for the purpose of public safety and health, consumer protection, and environmental protection. Under the Compulsory Standards Act No. 3 of 2017, the ZCSA is mandated to regulate 61 products across various sectors, including food products, chemicals, construction materials, and more.
The agency’s specific functions, as outlined in the Act, encompass administering and ensuring compliance with compulsory standards, pre-market approval of high-risk commodities, market surveillance, public education on compulsory standards, cooperation with relevant ministries and institutions, and related activities.
Key Activities of ZCSA:
- Inspection and Testing of Imported Products: This activity involves inspecting and testing products at major border entry points and inland ports to ensure public safety and protect consumers from unsafe imports.
- Inspection and Testing of Locally Produced Products: ZCSA officers stationed in provincial centers conduct factory inspections to identify and address safety concerns before products reach the market.
- Market Surveillance Inspections: These inspections are conducted across 61 products within the scope of compulsory standards to monitor continued compliance.
- Public Education: ZCSA conducts public education campaigns through various platforms, including roadshows, exhibitions, traditional media, and digital media, to raise awareness about compulsory standards and consumer protection.
Mr. Chizinga highlighted the importance of market surveillance inspections, which aim to ensure continued compliance with compulsory standards after products have entered the market. He noted that these inspections help identify safety concerns arising from transportation, storage conditions, shelf life monitoring, adulteration, and other factors.
Preliminary Findings from 2023 National Open Market Surveillance Inspections:
Since July 31, 2023, the ZCSA has conducted inspections in six provinces, covering 22 districts and 64 localities, inspecting a total of 35 products. The inspections have revealed several non-compliance incidents, including expired products, issues related to registration/documentation, banned or prohibited items, and poor labeling or packaging.
Compliance Actions Taken:
The ZCSA has implemented various enforcement actions on non-compliant products, including product withdrawal and product quarantine/restriction at trading outlets, based on the nature and severity of non-compliance.
General Level of Compliance:
The overall compliance rate during the inspections stands at 89%, reflecting an improvement from the previous year’s 85% compliance rate for the same period.
Mr. Chizinga outlined several initiatives and strategies that ZCSA intends to pursue:
- Intensifying public education on compulsory standards through roadshows, exhibitions, and various media channels.
- Enhancing enforcement activities to protect consumers.
- Urging traders to abide by existing regulations.
- Conducting follow-up activities with suppliers of local products in provinces with high non-compliance incidents.
- Collaborating with other government agencies on joint operations.
- Exploring more punitive actions and penalties to deter potential offenders.
- Encouraging the public to report any suspicious products to the agency.
In conclusion, Mr. Chizinga thanked the media for their support in disseminating information on compulsory standards and consumer protection. He encouraged continued reporting on these critical issues and emphasized the media’s role as a key stakeholder in promoting consumer safety and awareness of compulsory standards.
The Zambia Compulsory Standards Agency remains committed to its mandate of safeguarding public safety, health, and consumer protection through the enforcement of compulsory standards.