KIGALI - Forever Living Product (FLP), an international business organization dealing in food supplements and general medication, has continued to sell its products despite a court ruling that upheld a government decision to suspend the firm’s business.
A mini survey conducted by The New Times around the City of Kigali recently showed that FLP offices and dealers are still selling the products and that clients were increasing in numbers by the day.
On July 20, 2007, the ministry suspended FLP’s activities due to lack of qualified staff in something the government said was sensitive to people’s health.
As a result, FLP dragged the ministry to court for suspending its operations. The Ministry of Health won the case weeks ago.
Officially, the firm is supposed to resume operations after meeting the required standards, but privately, it has never ceased its activities.
One of FLP staff told this reporter that even after the High Court’s ruling, the organization continued to go about its business “as usual”.
“Workers have to be paid salaries from the money we get from sales. Dealers cannot simply stop working because they equally benefit,” the staff said on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The source said an FLP dealer can make as much as Fw50000 a day.
Dealers in Kacyiru, Kimihurura and Kimironko said they are supplied and sell the products without any hindrance.
But FLP officials declined to give a comment. The firm’s Country Representative Peruth Biryabarema could neither confirm nor deny that they still operate.
“I am not ready to give a comment now. We are just from a meeting, and any comment would put me in trouble. I hope things will change,” she said by telephone yesterday.
However, the Minister of Health Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo insisted that the organization was still banned from operating until they met the standards.
“We told them to first recruit qualified personnel to sell the products and sell them from publicly known places instead of homes and in any unofficial places,” Ntawukuriryayo, who retained his position in Friday’s cabinet reshuffle, explained.
He said as far as the ministry was concerned, FLP has never showed that that they did what the ministry instructed them to do.
The minister vowed that his ministry will not back down at enforcing standards, adding that they would take measures against people caught conducting the illegal business.
“They (FLP) will be told when to start operations after we have carried out our assessment and established that what they were asked to do is already in place,” the minister insisted.
The ministry stopped FLP from selling its medicinal products due to what officials called unacceptable methods the products were being transacted.
Deputy Attorney General Alphonse Sebazungu, who represented the government during the court battle, told court that the Health ministry could not allow FLP to use unqualified personnel in selling medical products.
“Such sensitive items cannot be sold in a disorganised manner. Medical products cannot be sold by anyone as if it is charcoal. It is a business that should be done in an orderly manner because if people are given overdose, the results can be disastrous,” he told court last month.
The New Times also learnt that FLP managers, supervisors and staff are increasingly targeting rural-based clients.
And in Kigali City, its officials hold meetings with clients in various parts of the city. Two of their meeting places are in a storied building in Kimironko near Ecole Primaire Remera Catholique.
FLP operates in over 120 countries worldwide and in 2006, it registered an overall turnover of $2 billion (over Frw9 trillion).