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Ban On Mitumba To Be Spread Over 10 Years, EALA Chairperson Says.

The ban on the importation of used clothes and shoes (mitumba) into the region’s market by the East African countries will be a progressive process spread over the next 10 years so as to cushion those already in the market and to prepare ground for the revival of the cotton and the textile industry.

This was revealed by the East Africa Legislature Assembly (EALA) Kenyan Chapter’s chairperson Mrs. Nancy Abisai when the chapter visited Mount Kenya University to create awareness of the EAC, foster integration and sensitise the students on the East Africa Agenda.

“Banning the importation of mitumba in the six countries of the EAC is an effort to save an industry that has long viewed as extinguished. The cotton we grow is usually exported abroad to sew the clothes that we later import here as mitumba. It is time we as East Africans we had a paradigm shift, grew our own cotton and produced our own affordable clothing for ourselves,” said Abisai.

She assured the populace that there was no need to panic since the EA countries were working on a methodology on how to revive the textile industry without killing the mitumba market and the people who solely depended on it. 

Speaking at the same venue, EALA MP Mumbi Ng’aru said that Kenyans, and especially her home town Thika, were the hardest hit by the mitumba trade since it killed the more than ten textile industries that employed thousands of people in the region. She called on legislation and policies that were geared towards value addition of the cotton we grew and the revival of the textile industry.

“I am fully in support of the (mitumba) ban and appreciate the process of reviving the textile industry to revive and redeem our economies and restore the dignity of our people,” Mumbi said.

In Kenya alone, the textile industry employed about 500,000 people in the 1980s. Today, this number has dropped to around 20,000.

On the purpose of the visit, the EALA legislatures put sensitised the student on their roles and functions in the region’s affairs.

“EALA is the legislative arm of EAC sitting in Arusha with members from all the six member states. Our main aim is to discuss matters pertaining to the EAC and make recommendations to the summit which consists of the heads of member states for action,” said Hon. Sarah Bonaya.

The legislatures added that they also working on a common market protocol, political union with the key role in the integration agenda.

EALA has already created an Inter-University Council to harmonise the education levels in the six countries.

The legislatures appealed to universities in Kenya to join the university council of the EAC so as to benefit with the vast wealth of information in the legislative assembly and take advantage of the opportunities in EALA Youth Council. They also asked them to start clubs that would eventually lead to that goal.

Mt. Kenya University became the first University to fly the EA flag after it joined the university council and promised to be agents of integration.

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