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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Used pants ban in Tanzania
Tanzania second hand clothes stall
Many Tanzanians can only afford second-hand clothes
The Tanzanian government has banned the importing of second-hand underwear.

An official from the Tanzanian Bureau of Standards (TSB) said they were acting because of the possibility of users developing skin diseases.

"Standards are demand driven......there is a demand and that's why we should come up with standards for these garments," the director of the TSB, Daimon Mwakyembe told the BBC.

But market traders have expressed their unhappiness at the decision, saying there is no proof that imported clothes posed any risk.
The exporters tell us that the garments have been disinfected but we normally advise our customers to wash them before wearing them
Ibrahim Jumanne
Used clothes trader
One Tanzanian trader in Dar es Salaam told the BBC that although imported pants, bras and socks are often in a bad state when traders receive them, they advise their customers to observe certain rules before wearing the garments.

"The underwear would usually be in a poor state....the exporters tell us that the garments have been disinfected but we normally advise our customers to wash them in hot water before wearing them," said Ibrahim Jumanne.

Class dependent

Another trader said that the TBS would do better investigating sub-standard food imports.

  "Tell TBS this is not food. They should concentrate on checking upon foodstuff imports many of which are expired or sub-standard or unfit for human consumption," said stall holder Saidi Abdallah Umbe.

Many Tanzanians wear second hand clothes because they are relatively cheap.

One seller of second hand clothes - known as mitumba - said he believed the decision was due to pressure from struggling textile manufacturers, while another said the choice to wear new or used underwear depended on one's social status.

"It is not right to ban these garments because we all belong to different social classes... Used underwear is all that the poor people can afford," said the trader who wished to remain anonymous.

A selection of your e-mails will be broadcast on BBC World Service's Focus on Africa programme during the 1705 edition on Saturday. Send us your comments using the form below.


A good decision
Chanda M, Finland
This is a good decision and requires support from all Tanzanians. However, I feel that perhaps increasing import taxes and trading licence fees for traders in second-hand clothes would have attained the same results. Well done government of Tanzania.
Chanda M, Finland

If the government of Tanzania really wants to enforce the non-use of second-hand underwear, they should ensure that poverty is alleviated. This seems far-fetched judging from the prevailing economic conditions. Therefore, people should be advised to apply anti-bacteria detergents rather banning the use of it.
Sigismond Wilson, Sierra Leone/USA

I agree that the decision to wear either new or secondhand garments depends on the social status of the individual. Therefore the choice as before should be left to the free market forces of demand and supply. However, if the government can prove that these garments are disease ridden and that they are harmful to its citizens then they should remove them from the market entirely.
Mr Abdul Bayumi, Tanzania

We have enough cotton, it is just a matter of providing quality leadership
Zitto Kabwe, Dortmund, Germany
This is the right decision. Yes, Tanzanians are now very economically and socially divided but our dignity should not be put away. Wearing second-hand underwear was bad in the first place. The leaders must view this as a policy issue and provide incentives for local small traders to manufacture underwear inside the country. We have enough cotton, it is just a matter of providing quality leadership.
Zitto Kabwe, Dortmund, Germany

This is a very good example that many African countries like Cameroon must follow. These things can flood our countries with diseases that will be hard to eradicate.
Nsaiboti Valentine Dzemo, Cameroon

As a Tanzanian I am very sad to see that social, political, and economic inequalities force some Tanzanians to put on second-hand underwear while others put on very expensive latest fashions invented by world class designers and sold in most expensive boutiques anywhere in the world. Forcing people to put on second-hand underpants is a humiliation of human dignity. Tanzanians like every other people do not like to be humiliated.
Fidelis Tungaraza, Finland


This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


SEE ALSO:
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