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Commission warns schools against compulsory sale of branded facemasks

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By Alois Vinga


THE Competition and Tariffs Commission (CTC) has threatened to take action against schools ordering learners to buy face masks from them or from stipulated suppliers, saying such practices violate competition regulations.

In a recent update, CTC said the directives being issued negatively impacted the consuming public as this was uncompetitive.

“The Commission will not condone such exploitation of the vulnerable society during the Covid-19 pandemic period; and will not hesitate to undertake enforcement actions against any school found to contravene the Competition Act, pre-and post- the opening of schools,” CTC said.

In line with the regulations, CTC also advised all stakeholders – including schools, parents, guardians and scholars, that the practice of imposing a supplier of face masks and sanitisers on schools, pupils, parents, guardians, is an anticompetitive practice prohibited in terms of section 2 of the Competition Act [Chapter 14:28 ].

“The practice negatively impacts on consumer welfare as it limits guardians and parents’ choice of buying masks and sanitisers from alternative cheaper or quality suppliers.

“Stakeholders are therefore requested to approach the Commission with information on any forced sale of face masks and sanitisers during this Covid-19 pandemic period as parents, guardians and scholars exercise their right to make choices of where to purchase face masks and sanitisers,” the commission said.

A snap survey by NewZimbabwe.com revealed that several public and private schools in the country were selling face masks and sanitisers at prices way above normal market rates.

Such practices are seen as an indirect fundraising attempt by schools.

Some parents have cried foul over being fleeced by unscrupulous school authorities.