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Second-hand clothes raise Ebola fears


GOVERNMENT is worried about the influx of second-hand clothes into the country as the used apparel could fuel the spread of infectious viruses such as Ebola if left uncontrolled.


Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha yesterday told Senate that most of these clothes passed the country’s porous borders without proper checks and, therefore, had the potential of spreading the virus.

He was responding to a question by Masvingo Senator Misheck Marava, who wanted to know the measures his ministry would take to protect the ailing textile industries in the country.

“On Tuesday, I presented a paper to Cabinet on the state of industry — sector by sector — and I came up with a number of recommendations on the textile sector where I expressed my worries over the issue of second-hand clothes,” Bimha said.

“What is worrying about these second-hand clothes coming into the country are diseases like Ebola, because we do not know where those clothes will be coming from and who was putting them on because they pass through the borders without checks and evade paying duties,” he said.

He, however, said there was light at the end of the tunnel for the clothing and textile sub-sector whereby he was going to meet with the judicial management of David Whitehead Textiles on Monday where they were expected to announce that they were now ready to start operations.

“It is a sign that the clothing and textile industry will get on stream again. We have also gone into negotiations with Comesa (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) to examine the value chain from cotton-growing to garment-making and there is a fund that will go along with the strategy. They have identified two areas we need help on,” he said.

Bimha said stakeholders in the textile industry had cited inadequate supplies of cotton lint, lack of technical expertise and pricing
policies as affecting the growth of the sector.

Bimha said the ministry would introduce an open general import licence which would discourage importation of cheap locally available goods like tomatoes and dairy products.

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