The Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, has issued a call for nominations from accomplished individuals to serve on the Western Cape Consumer Affairs Tribunal. This Tribunal, a pioneering initiative, is dedicated to upholding the rights of consumers and acting as an impartial adjudicator in cases of disputes between consumers and businesses.
Minister Wenger emphasized the vital role of consumer protection in ensuring equitable market dynamics that benefit both businesses and consumers. She noted, “Access to accurate and unbiased information empowers consumers to make informed choices while shielding them from unfair treatment or deceptive practices by enterprises.”
Moreover, Minister Wenger highlighted the reciprocal advantages for businesses committed to responsible consumer relations. Enterprises that champion fair practices are likely to gain a reputation for ethical conduct, boosting their appeal and competitiveness. She underscored the significance of selecting individuals with relevant experience and a fervor for consumer rights to join the Consumer Affairs Tribunal.
The Western Cape Consumer Affairs Tribunal, provided free of charge to Western Cape citizens, strives to establish transparent regulations for consumer-business interactions. It aims to expedite the resolution of consumer disputes and offers a user-friendly alternative to the often intricate legal processes.
At present, the Office of the Consumer Protector furnishes an alternative dispute resolution service for consumers and businesses within the Western Cape. However, the Consumer Affairs Tribunal is authorized to investigate, prohibit, and regulate unfair business practices. It primarily focuses on adjudicating complaints related to alleged unfair practices that the Office of the Consumer Protector could not amicably resolve.
Minister Wenger elucidated, “While many disputes find resolution through mutual agreement, certain matters defy such conciliation. The Consumer Affairs Tribunal steps in to provide binding decisions on such disputes, ensuring a just conclusion.”
The Tribunal is comprised of four members, with one designated as the Chairperson. Eligible candidates for the Chairperson position include retired High Court judges, attorneys, advocates, retired magistrates, or university lecturers with a minimum of a decade’s cumulative experience in the respective capacities. The remaining Tribunal members should possess specialized knowledge or experience in consumer advocacy, economics, industry, or commerce.
Successful nominees will serve on a part-time basis for an initial three-year term and receive remuneration in accordance with a communicated tariff. Nominations will be accepted until August 31, 2023. Interested parties must submit a written nomination accompanied by the nominee’s consent and a comprehensive curriculum vitae. The selection process involves meticulous vetting encompassing qualifications, work history, criminal record, financial standing, and more.
Nominations can be submitted via post to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, addressed to Adv A Searle, Director of the Office of Consumer Protector, P O Box 979, Cape Town, 8000. Alternatively, nominations can be hand-delivered to the reception desk at the Ground Floor, Waldorf Building, 80 St Georges Mall, Cape Town, or emailed to Buyile.Nopote@westerncape.gov.za. Inquiries are welcome and can be directed to Mr. Buyile Nopote at (021) 483-9411 or 073 108 0947.
The establishment of the Western Cape Consumer Affairs Tribunal marks a significant stride toward safeguarding consumer rights and fostering an environment of transparency and accountability in business-consumer interactions. This initiative reflects the Western Cape’s commitment to an equitable marketplace that benefits all stakeholders.