THE FINANCE MINISTER of Zimbabwe has banned the sale of second-hand underpants, saying the trade was evidence that the country’s husbands had “failed” their wives.
Tendai Biti questioned how his country had reached a stage where people are buying used underwear.
Zimbabwe’s economy has collapsed in recent years, with much of the population pushed into poverty while a ruling elite led by President Robert Mugabe enjoy luxurious lifestyles.
It is this which has pushed many residents to buy secondhand clothing, including underwear, sold at flea markets after being donated to Western charities. But according to Nehanda Radio, Biti said:
I am told we are now even importing women’s underwear. How does that happen? If you are a husband and you see your wife buying underwear from the flea market, you would have failed.
Every kilogram of imported pants is now subject to a $3 tariff. The move has been hailed by some local media, with the Zimbabwe Metro saying it was “one of the best laws our country has put in place in recent years”.
In an editorial, the paper said used underwear carried “humiliation and disease”, and argued:
Wearing used underwear is most dehumanising and no government worth its salt should allow its citizens to be abused to this extent.
However, a group of traders has begun a petition calling for an end to the import tariffs, the Zimbabwe Standard reports.