In November 2008, SLAM (SAFA Legal and & Management) announced the launch of the United 4 Bafana Bafana official supporter range under the vision of Dress the Nation. Its PR blurb expressed the commitment that to contribute to the growth and further development of the South African clothing and textile industry, SLAM is working closely with Proudly South Africa to ensure that by 2010 the majority of Bafana Bafanas apparel range will be manufactured in South Africa.
With the Fifa African Confederation Cup event behind us and the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament around the corner, just how much of the official supporter apparel merchandise is being made in South Africa?
Over the last few months, I have posed this question to SAFA, to FIFA, to a retail chain and to contacts in the South African clothing industry, but am still none the wiser. So I decided to conduct some basic fieldwork in a large sports retail outlet at the GateWay mall in Durban last week, surreptitiously surveying the labels of various items. What did I find?
Bafana Bafana woven Beanies are made in China. The swing tag on Bafana Bafana floppy hats confirms their status as official merchandise of the South African Football Association, and that the purchase of this product would contribute to the development of soccer in South Africa but the hats are made in China.
A white T-shirt with Bafana Bafana screen-printed on the front is identified as being manufactured by Sarragan AG a Swiss globally active corporation in the clothing and sporting goods industry with a focus on licensed products.” Its website proclaims that “as a global organisation, we emphasize social conditions of employment and environmental friendly products in compliance with all requirements.” The T-shirt, retailing at R160-00, bears a Made in China label.
A blue Fifa T-shirt with a large plastic iron-on Fifa logo (of such poor quality that the image is already cracking) is selling at R100-00 with a Made in Mauritius label.
FIFA bags (similar to shopping bags), with a very poorly silk-screened one-colour Fifa logo on brown fabric, are made in Pakistan. The bag is a very simple design, with no plastic panel reinforcing its base. This stock could easily have been made by some of the hundreds of South African income-generating community projects, thus empowering their members with skills and allocating a percentage of the proceeds to HIV/AIDS and poverty alleviation interventions. Juxtapose this concept with the fact that Pakistans textile and clothing industry contributes 40% of its manufacturing employment base, accounting for 8.2% of its gross domestic product for the year July 2007 to June 2008, and exporting US$ 10.6 billion in related goods during this period.
It is widely known that a Made in China label connotes production under sweat-shop conditions. In April last year, ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte blamed suppliers for the partys election T-shirts having been made in China. Unless SLAM can prove that their suppliers have sourced the official licensed apparel items from manufacturers that meet international labour regulations, we can be forgiven for presuming that this failure in accountability and social concern for South Africas crippled job market prevails.
The apparel industry in Mauritius relies on imported labour from China and India, and an estimated 22 000 foreign workers are employed on the island. In 2007, the UK news agency Mail Online reported that a new Kate Moss TopShop fashion range was using sweatshops on the island to make the garments, where “Sri Lankans, Indians and Bangladeshis toil for 12 hours a day, six days a week, for minimal pay.”
Studies show that the Mauritian textile and clothing sector is of critical importance to the economic success of the country, contributing 12% to its GDP between 1990 and 2000.
In 2009, South African trade unions urged FIFA and the 2010 Soccer World Cup’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) to ensure that the licensed apparel would not come out of sweatshops. The International Textile and Garment Leather Workers’ Federation called upon FIFA to disclose the origins of the products. The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has reportedly signed an agreement with the LOC that all producers of FIFA-branded sportswear in South Africa should be members of the clothing bargaining council.
Will the unions follow-up and ask for verification of the Chinese, Mauritian and Pakistani suppliers? Should we not, as consumers, be demanding such verification?
It is one thing to dress the nation but what about redress for our nation? RENATO PALMI, by e-mail
Chaibva another political charlatan
EDITOR – Gabriel Chaibva, the former national executive member in the Deputy Prime Minister Athur Mutambaras party, has shown sheer stupidity by fleeing a sinking ship to one that has already sunk, which is Zanu (PF).
However, all progressive forces are celebrating that one purported democratic in the name of Chaibva has finally decided to join other failures in Zanu (PF) and is where he belongs.
Following his defection from the MDC in 2005, the man has never known any joy politically as the people who are a true reflection of any political party have rejected him at every poll that he contested.
He truly has shown that he is a political charlatan with no foresight at all, but no one, even those in Zanu (PF) where he has turned to for political obscurity, will ever think of him more seriously now.
Were any of this political prostitutes relatives ever killed or maimed by those in Zanu (PF)? I wonder what his relatives will think of this man who has decided to sell his soul and dine with killers and rapists.
This man was an MDC official when MDC members such as Talent Mabika, Tonderai Machiridza, Trymore Midzi, Musekiwa Kufandaedza, Mathew Pfebve and Prisca Sibanda to mention only a few, were murdered in cold blood by Zanu (PF) thugs, a party that Chaibva is now joining.
Now who would doubt if you were one of the key informers in Zanu (PF) who assisted in the untimely deaths of these true democrats.
His other claim that he was joining a revolutionary party that is not tribal is simply just hogwash.
Internationally it is known that Zanu (PF) went on a massacre expedition to eradicate the Ndebele tribe.
The deaths of more than 20 000 innocent people, according to Zanu (PF)s Robert Mugabe, was just because they supported Zapu that was led by a Ndebele leader, Joshua Nkomo at that time.
Is this simply not tribalism, Chaibva? I wonder. ANON., by e-mail
Changes to POSA must go ahead
EDITOR – The proposed amendments to the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) by MDC parliamentary chief whip, Innocent Gonese, should go on without any political interference.
For the past 30 years we have been victims of a police unit that operates like a political outfit.
We have people who have been arrested, tortured and even killed by the Zanu (PF) police for demonstrating peacefully in the streets.
A demonstration is considered a democratic right in most progressive countries, but in Zimbabwe it could be your death sentence.
Several Acts of the Constitution of Zimbabwe are being disregarded by police officers after pressure was put on them by certain politicians to do so using this draconian creature known as POSA.
Thousands of civic society and political parties activists have been arrested on flimsy charges under POSA and have spent more than 48 hours under police custody, only to be acquitted by the courts due to lack of evidence.
Something must be done. ANON., by e-mailPost published in: Zimbabwe Sports News