Zimbabwe has banned the importation and sale of second-hand underwear. The ban was announced by finance minister Tendai Biti, who said he was shocked to discover that Zimbabweans were buying used underwear.
The Zimbabwe Mail reported that Biti said: “I am told we are now even importing women’s underwear in this country. How does that happen? If you are a husband and you see your wife buying underwear from the flea market, you would have failed. If I was your in-law, I would take my daughter and urge you to first put your house in order if you still want her back.”
Africa Review reports that a notice in a government gazette said it is now forbidden to import: “second-hand undergarments of any type, form or description – whether purchased, donated or procured in any other manner.”
The new law became effective on December 30.
Second-hand underwear, especially women's undies, are available for buyers to purchase in Zimbabwe's flea markets. The underwear are imported along with other second-hand clothes and donations from other parts of the world.
With the new legislation, the Zimbabwean Revenue Authority will charge 40 percent duty and 15 percent VAT on all underwear imports into the country and apply a $3 penalty for every kilogram of undergarments entering the country.
The local media have expressed approval of the new law. The Zimbabwe Mail said:
"One of the best laws that our country has put in place in recent years is the total ban on the importation of second-hand underwear...the Finance ministry should have long ago stopped this humiliating reality where Zimbabweans are made to wear undergarments used and discarded by other people. Wearing used underwear is most dehumanising and no government worth its salt should allow its citizens to be abused to this extent. It is a fact that our flea markets receive bales of clothing, some of which is exclusively used underwear – some of which is soiled. What nation have we become that knowingly subjects its people to humiliation and disease? It is inconceivable for a country to open its borders for the importation of used underwear – to allow our women to wear undergarments that other women in other countries have used and discarded.Africa Review reports that while the local media have approved of the ban, saying it will address the health concerns related to use of second-hand underwear, some traders have protested, saying it will affect their business. Goodson Ndaba, a cross-border trader, said: “People are not buying used underwear because they like it.” He blamed it on the bad economy.