Investments, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria says the government will ban the importation iof second-hand clothes, commonly known as ‘mitumba’, once they find an alternative from the local textile industry.
Kuria while speaking at the Chamngamka Shoping Festival in Nairobi on Tuesday pointed out that Kenya exports locally made fabric at a cheaper price than it imports the second-hand clothes.
He said his ministry is focused on empowering the local textile industry.
“Whatever is required for us to sell to our people the same way we are selling to America, we will do. Once the option is available we will do like South Africa.
“South Africa banned mitumba. I’m sure you want me to say that we are going to ban mitumba, Yes, we will ban mitumba once we give people an alternative and then we ban it,” said Kuria.
“The price we are selling to America is much lower than Mitumba. It’s not a question of price, it’s a question of availability, and it’s a question of information. I will work with the textile industry and make sure that first we make the cheaper clothes available in this market,” added the CS.
Kenya is one of the largest importers of second-hand clothes in Sub-Saharan Africa and while the idea of banning used apparel may be sound, it always turns out to be a hot button issue.
During campaigns in the lead-up to the August General Election, President William Ruto and his main rival, Raila Odinga, locked horns over each other’s comments on imported second-hand clothing.
Odinga in his presidential manifesto blamed the country’s low-performing textile industry on an influx in mitumba, while Ruto tore into the idea, saying the former premier’s vision for the country’s textile industry will negatively affect the second-hand clothing business.
“Trickle down is dangerous. They branded business people’s merchandise counterfeit & destroyed them. Now clothing enterprises are dealers in dead-people’s wares to be banned. BOTTOM UP, using TVET will assist these enterprises grow from sewing, cottage to textile & leather industry,” said Ruto.
In response to the then-Deputy President’s utterances, Raila shared a video capturing him at a past political rally in which he likewise stated that should he clinch the presidency, his government will ban importation of mitumba and endorse the roll out of locally manufactured products.
“Mambo ya viti tunaagiza, nguo tunaagiza, viatu tunaagiza; tutasimamisha ndio hiyo nguo na viatu na all wooden products zitengenezwe nchini ili tuweze kuondoa umaskini na kuajirii vijana wetu wote,” Ruto says in the video.
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