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Moses Kuria says he was misquoted on mitumba importation saga

Trade, Industry and Investment (MITI) Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria now says the government will not ban the sale and use of second-hand clothes, commonly referred to locally as Mitumba.

Speaking on JKL Live on Wednesday night, the newly appointed MITI CS said that he was misquoted by the media he has no regrets about committing to boosting local textile industries.

“This is about media distortions when I was asked this question by a journalist the other day, I told him that he was only posing the query since he wanted to report that Moses Kuria is banning mitumba and I am glad that I got that on record,” the CS said.

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Kuria said his remarks on Tuesday had been misinterpreted, adding that the plan was to increase consumption of locally made clothes hence decreasing the number of Kenyans buying mitumba.

“I don’t need to ban mitumba and I will not ban mitumba but I will make mitumba not competitive. I will give people better options. I will make sure that people are able to buy clothes made in Kenya at a cheaper price,” he said.

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Kuria said his ministry was committed to ending poverty by creating employment opportunities in the textile industry, adding that those who buy mitumba are driven by poverty, not will.

“I want to see a Kenya whereby every Kenyan can afford to buy new clothes… I want to see those people wearing clothes made here in Limuru that are affordable. I have no regrets about that,” he added.

Kuria on Tuesday said that the government would ban the importation of mitumba after plans to give people cheaper alternatives come into place.

He was speaking during the Changamka Shopping Festival at KICC on Tuesday, Kuria said his ministry would strive to make more locally manufactured clothes that are cheaper to support the Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative.

“I will work with the textile industry to ensure that we make cheaper clothes available in this market, and then we will ban mitumba,” he said.

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The CS noted that second-hand clothes are not that cheap compared to locally manufactured clothes, the issue is mainly with their availability.

“The price that we sell our locally manufactured clothes to America is much lower than mitumba, so it is not a question of price but a question of availability,” the CS said.

Kuria noted that the country’s textile industry is still lagging behind, employing approximately 50,000 people, while in countries like Bangladesh the sector employs 5 million people.

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The move to ban mitumba could mean a loss of jobs, with two million Kenyans directly employed in the sector. The sector is also a key revenue earner for the National Government.

Kenya’s second-hand clothing imports keep rising, from Sh10 billion to Sh18 billion in the last six years.

Most of the secondhand clothing imports in Kenya come from the US and Europe, but in recent years, China has overtaken them, followed by Poland, Germany, and UAE.

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