There is a serious need for government to control the influx of second-hand clothes coming from Europe and poor quality clothing manufactured in Southeast Asia in order to help reviving the textile industry in Zambia.
United Liberal Party (ULP) says government should put measures in place that will help to revive and protect the textile industry in Zambia. ULP president Sakwiba Sikota has observed that the textile industry if properly revived has great potential to create thousands of jobs and help reduce the levels of poverty in the country.
“In 1991 there were 140 textile manufacturers across Zambia which had fallen to eight by 2003”, observed Sikota.
“Second-hand clothing (Salaula) has wiped out an industry which employed thousands of workers, causing unemployment and reducing the tax base of government in desperate need of revenue.
“Zambia’s textile industry has been crushed by World Bank and IMF-imposed trade liberalization; the two institutions have forced Zambia to replace real jobs and livelihoods with a second-hand clothing charity business.
“While some social commentators have argued that second-hand clothes (Salaula) for millions of Zambians living on less than US $2 dollars a day are the only way to buy “new clothes” the ULP is calling for strict control of second-hand clothing brought into the country to revive local industry. “Second-hand clothing appeared to have created a win-win situation when it was first brought into the country; but over the last fifteen years we have seen how badly second-hand clothing has decimated Zambia’s textile industry.
“What is also true of Zambia’s textile industry was its wider manufacturing base, where hundreds of thousands of workers where employed but have since lost their jobs. The malaise of second-hand clothing has also had a profound social impact on the population with 40 per cent of the Zambian population in 1990 classed as malnourished; by 2002, that had risen to over 50 per cent as a result of thousand losing their jobs.
“Take for example Mr. Sury Patel who used to run SWARP Spinning Mills, one of the country’s biggest clothing manufacturers. In the second Republic SWARP Spinning Mills, employed more than 300 people producing over 2,500 shirts a day but by June 2004 only 20 people where working in SWARP factories and, instead of finely tailored shirts, SWARP’s main business has been reduced to churning out cloth which sells for a pittance.
“Government should act now to stop the continued influx of second-hand clothing and poor quality clothing from Asia to protect the little that is left of the Zambian textile industry. One way government can help control the influx of second-hand clothing is to impose high import duty on imported textile materials.”