Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, has come under sharp criticism over his statement on second hand clothes, famously known as Mitumba.
Speaking during his manifesto launch on Monday, June 6, Raila stated that the importation of mitumba clothes into the country had killed other sectors of the economy including manufacturing.
While explaining its impact, Raila remarked that mitumba clothes people in Kenya are wearing might have been worn by people who already died.
But in his entire plan to give mitumba sector a new face, Raila detailed that he will revive the manufacturing sector to enable traders to acquire locally made clothes to substitute mitumba.
Raila noted that he intends to do this by increasing the government support for the cotton sector and textile industries in the country.
“Mitumba killed all our sectoral industry. Our people are only wearing clothes coming from outside the country which have been worn by people who are dead.
“We are going to primary production so that our people who are importing mitumba can have good products to sell here. I am saying we are not moving anybody out of business, we will ensure that those who are importing mitumba get the first hand to market goods which are going to be manufactured here in this country,” Raila stated
“We will gin the cotton here and we will make the finished product here and this will create again a very big source of employment for our youths in the country.”
That statement ignited mixed reactions from Kenyans online after his speech was edited to only portray the bit where he stated that mitumba might have been worn by dead people.
Kimilili Member of Parliament, Didmus Barasa, ridiculed Raila over the sentiments, asking Kenyans to forgive him.
“Those bashing Raila Odinga for his comments on mitumba clothes should forgive him. This is a man who was born when his father was Vice President,” Didmus stated.
On the other hand, digital strategist and blogger, Dennis Itumbi, noted that mitumba contributes to over 2 million jobs in the country.
“Mitumba employs 2 million Kenyans, mitumba pays Ksh18 billion in taxes and 91.5 per cent of Kenyan households buy second hand clothes,” Itumbi explained condemning Raila’s statement.
Nonetheless, Raila’s supporters welcomed the move saying that it will lead to more jobs and better quality products. Kisumu Governor, Anyang Nyong’o, speaking to KTN News, noted that Raila’s statement was taken out of context but in real sense he intends to empower mitumba traders more and save them from the cost of expensive importation fees.
“Raila was just misquoted. His plan actually intends to change the mitumba sector and make it more affordable to all traders in the country. His plan will save many traders the headache of making expensive imports,” Nyong’o explained.