Government relaxes regulations on second clothes imports
By Walter Nyamukondiwa
Government has relaxed its position on the importation of second hand clothes, to allow for the resuscitation and reorganisation of the textile and clothing industry before the policy can be enforced.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce 2017 strategic planning workshop in Kariba yesterday, Minister Mike Bimha said the policy on banning second hands clothes is there, but cannot be enforced at present.
“It’s a policy that was made with the hope that when we begin to enforce it, we will have improved local production. We cannot ban something when we do not have an alternative. People need to have an alternative if we are to say you cannot bring in clothes,” he said.
“We can only enforce when we believe that we have the capacity to make more or less the same as what we are importing. If we can’t, we might as well continue importing.”
He said Government now has to revisit the textile and clothing industry to ramp production so that it is able to make quality clothes at reasonable prices.
He gave an example of Ethiopia, which has an industrial park designated a special economic zone for clothing, and employing thousands of people as a template that needs to be followed.
“When you have such an organised set-up which produces quality clothes at reasonable prices, then you can talk of banning,” he said.
Minister Bimha said there is a drive to turn cotton into clothing, which hinges on the resuscitation to textile companies such as David Whitehead.
Government has hit the ground running with major investments into cotton production, which are expected to provide raw materials for the clothing and textile industry, which used to employ thousands in areas such as Chegutu, Kadoma and Bulawayo.
This will come as a relief to dealers of second hand clothes who, apart from providing livelihoods to their families, have also provided a cheaper alternative to mostly low income earners with cheaper clothes.
The fashion-conscious have also not been left out as they target good quality clothes at low prices.
Second hand clothes have set up a countrywide network where clothes are paraded on the sidewalks and flea markets with items going for as little as a dollar.
Dealers have argued that Government’s decision to ban second hand clothes was premised on the wrong assumption, as industry that was being protected was also importing clothes from South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania.
Government banned the importation of second hand clothes and shoes in 2015 to allow the local industry to grow as it was being choked by cheap imports.
The ban caused an outcry as people wanted cheaper alternatives while others defended their source of livelihood. The Herald