Market traders in Malawi will be banned from selling second-hand underwear and other items, a move which has received mixed reactions as some traders fear this will negatively impact their economic livelihoods.
The decision by the Malawi government to impose a ban on the importation of secondhand underwears is in line with the new Control of Goods Act, which aims to restrict imports and encourage local manufacturing.
The Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, said in Lilongwe on Wednesday that following the enactment of the Act, all import and export permits have been revoked and new ones will be issued in respect of the new trade regime.
The licences that were under the previous regime expired on 24 July after the gazette of the new law.
Government contends that used pants – and other second-hand goods like handkerchiefs and mattresses – are unhygienic and could pose a health hazard.
The minister said the new law challenges local industry to produce the products that need not to be imported like tooth picks and vegetables.
Gwengwe has disclosed that the traders will be able to get new permits by 7 August 2020.
However, vendors who have been surviving on sale of secondhand underwear and related items have expressed fear this will have a negative impact on their economic activities.
“We will certainly be affected because those items were selling faster because of their cheaper prices. And this helped us survive in town,” said John Banda, a vendor at the Lilongwe Flea Market.
Others have said government has hastened in effecting the Act, arguing Malawi does not have the machinery and expertise to have locally-products user-friendly products.
“Just because Chakwera has said those ministers who will not deliver will be removed doesn’t mean that you present dreams in your ministry and you think Malawians will buy your crude hallucinations. Malawi to get to a stage where it can be called an industrial entity, time and good resource utilisation need to be applied. If you think producing toothpicks will involve scraping bamboos with knives or razor blades, then forget it Mr. Gwengwe. Anduna, serious?” a social media user writing under the name Marcus Garvey asked.
Abiti Chezunana, another market trader, defended the secondhand business.
“Second-hand underwear and other clothes we sell are better quality than new undies in the stores,” she said.
She admitted that some of the imported underwear was stained but said customers rummage through the piles and inspect goods before buying.
Second-hand clothing is often referred to as ‘Kaunjika’.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :