Zimbabwe bans second-hand underwear
Zimbabwe has banned the sale of second-hand underwear, sparking protests from traders who say the move will push them out of business.
According to a notice published in a government gazette, it is now forbidden to import “second-hand undergarments of any type, form or description – whether purchased, donated or procured in any other manner.”
This followed complaints by Finance Minister Tendai Biti who last year said he was shocked to discover that many Zimbabweans bought used underwear from market stalls.
The ban became effective on December 30.
“I am told we are now even importing women’s underwear,” Mr Biti said.
“How does this happen? If you are a husband and you see your wife buying underwear from the flea market, you have failed.”
The government has also imposed 40 per cent duty and 15 value added tax (VAT) on all underwear imports and a $3 penalty for every kilogramme of the clothing entering the country.
But Zimbabweans who buy second-hand goods from outside the country for resale say the ban is insensitive.
“People are not buying used underwear because they like it,” said Mr Goodson Ndaba, a cross-border trader.
“Besides, this will have a serious impact on thousands of Zimbabweans who survive on selling second-hand clothing.”
The majority of Zimbabweans earn a living from the informal sector in a country with an unemployment rate of over 80 per cent.
Traders buy bales of second hand clothing from Dubai and China for resale.
Several African countries which have thriving second hand clothing markets have issued similar bans on used underwear.