ZIMBABWE has banned the sale of second-hand underwear. A new law has made it illegal to import or sell used pants, according to a local newspaper.
It is now forbidden to import 'second-hand undergarments of any type form or description - whether purchased, donated or procured in any other manner.
The hand-me-down knicker ban was introduced by finance minister Tendai Biti, who said he was shocked to discover many Zimbabweans bought used underwear from flea markets or stalls.
Biti added: “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.”
The privately-owned News Day newspaper reported that the practise was prohibited under a government clampdown which became effective on December 30.
Zimbabwe economic problems had forced many residents into purchasing second hand underwear from markets which have either been supplied with the second hand stock or the underwear has been donated from other developed countries around the world.
Under the new legislation the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority will now charge 40 percent duty and 15 percent VAT on all underwear imports and apply a US$3 penalty for every kilogram of pants entering the country.
Local media reported that this new ban is a positive move in the right direction as it will address the health concerns related to the wearing of second hand underwear.
It is also believed the law could help protect Zimbabwe's struggling domestic textiles industry.
However Zimbabwe is not the first African country to enforce a legislation to outlaw sale of used knickers. Ghana's government officially banned the practice in 1994 but started enforcing the law last year following concerns those wearing second hand pants risked infections.