Civil society petition MPs to ban second-hand underwear imports

Thursday August 20 2015

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Kampala- Traders in Uganda will be barred from selling and importing second-hand underwear if government accepts a new Bill being pushed by civil society activists.

Under the proposed Bill: Made in Africa Bill, 2015, the petitioners have asked Parliament to ban the importation of the second-hand underwear of any type or description - whether purchased, donated or procured in any other manner.

Worldwide African Congress (WAC), a Pan-African organisation, yesterday petitioned Parliament, calling for a ban on used undergarment and other second-hand goods on account of being unhygienic.

“Save our dignity and health by imposing a ban on the importation of second-hand underwear that include but not limited to underpants, knickers, brassieres, vests, night dresses and subsequently reward those that engage in their production locally,” Mr Mayambala Wafrika, the chairperson of WAC, said.

However, Mr Wafrika and other petitioners said due to shortage of local industries, there is a lot of consumer demand for second-hand clothing, often imported from Europe, as they are cheaper.

Mr Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and other lawmakers on the Trade Committee, said “wearing used underwear is most dehumanising” and that “no government worth its salt should allow its citizens to be abused to this extent by subjecting its people to humiliation and disease”.

Although Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) and MPs have backed the ban as a step in the right direction, other traders who talked to Daily Monitor yesterday said the ban on used underwear might “kill business”.

Mr Issa Ssekitto, the spokesperson of Kacita, said he would support the ban but after “serious warning and time frame” to mitigate the aftershocks.

Although Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde did not respond when contacted yesterday, the State Minister for Health, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, agreed with the petitioners on the proposed ban, but rejected the conclusion that only second-hand underpants cause diseases. “We should move towards banning second-hand underwears and even second-hand clothes and support our local industries to close the gap,” Dr Baryomunsi said.
He said he would consult with the Trade ministry to address the concerns.