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Public Urged to be wary of Counterfeit Goods

Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
CONSUMERS and the Government could be using huge sums of money to buy counterfeit goods which are flooding the market.

This was revealed by the Anti Counterfeit Watchdog, a non-profit organisation that provides community and consumers knowledge on the need to ensure they purchase genuine brands. Anti- Counterfeit Watchdog executive director Mrs Betty Mapwashike said the biggest challenge was that consumers were not even aware of some of the counterfeit brands.

“Counterfeiting of products and piracy is a growing problem globally as it threatens businesses and consumers. Unfortunately developing countries are the most affected because of inadequate awareness, regulation and enforcement and is further worsened by the fact that consumers have little or no product knowledge.

“These counterfeit products undermine consumer confidence in well-known brands and deprive the brand owners and legitimate businesses of sales revenues. The Government is also deprived of the much needed tax revenues. Consumers are also adversely affected as they unknowingly purchase these products which are a danger to their health and safety as all fake products do not undergo the rigorous testing that genuine branded products go through,” she said.

Mrs Mapwashike said most counterfeit processed foods, eggs, alcohol, honey, beverages, medicines and farming chemicals.

“There is a case of a local brand of Two Keys liquor that was being manufactured in Mbare a high density suburb in Harare and sold to people unknowingly. This can be detrimental to health as people were not aware of what they were drinking. It is not an issue if one buys a counterfeit handbag of a famous brand because it has no effect on the health but it’s a different scenario when it comes to foodstuffs and other consumables,” she said.

“Some retailers have been purchasing genuine brands that are more expensive and when they see a cheaper brand they actually go and buy it in order to save and these are bought from suppliers whose source they do not know and they have a range of products in their shops. We witness a situation whereby toothpaste had three different prices in one shop,” Mrs Mapwashike.

Counterfeit drugs for instance, are said to be falsely labelled and contain no active ingredients such that when consumed they have no effect and will not cure the disease one may be suffering from and may do more harm.

“The biggest challenge that is faced in the area of Intelletual Property (IP) enforcement in Zimbabwe is poor or inadequate consumer awareness and education. Many people have no knowledge regarding intellectual property.

Consequently, they have no regard for IP and do not consider the unlawful acquisition of intellectual property as theft,” she said.
On 6 June 2019, Anti-Counterfeit Watchdog celebrated the World Anti- Counterfeit Day.