Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
THE National Dress Fabric is now available nationwide and several shops in Bulawayo have been identified and the fabric will be on sale from today as the nation gears up for Independence Day celebrations in the city.
Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Dr Sithembiso Nyoni revealed this yesterday during a press briefing at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex accompanied by Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube.
President Mnangagwa launched the National Dress Fabric two years ago at a colourful event at State House, marking the first time the country has been able to settle on a national dress style since 1980.
First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa spearheaded the search for the National Dress Fabric after embarking on comprehensive consultations with different stakeholders and ethnic groups from all the country’s 10 provinces.
The National Dress Fabric encompasses national symbols such as the Zimbabwe Bird, the national flag and the Chevron pattern.
Designs of the fabric were showcased at a glamorous fashion show held at State House.
The National Dress Fabric was not readily available and the few retail outlets that had the fabric were selling it in foreign currency but now it is being sold in local currency.
It is selling for $700 per metre and customers can pay using swipe, EcoCash or cash.
Manufactured by King Fisher in Harare, the National Dress Fabric is now available at Mhlahlandela Government Complex, Pamela Creations’ two branches in the city centre, Esats Complex, all National Gallery of Zimbabwe Craft Shops around the country, Zilch Investments at Trust House and Esats chain of stores in Bulawayo.
The exercise to identify the fabric retailers is ongoing.
Ms Pamela Mwapaura, who runs Pamela Creations that specialises in African wear, said she was honoured to be a National Dress Fabric Ambassador and promised to tailor make beautiful and colourful outfits.
“Being the Ambassador of the National Fabric is an honour as we have been having clients coming to our shop and asking whether we have it. We specialise in African wear, so some would come from Harare, with the national fabric and then ask us to make outfits for them. We didn’t know where they were sourcing the fabric,” said Ms Mwapaura
Mrs Silenkosi Moyo, regional director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, said the fabric was already at their Craft Shop.
“The Craft Shop is for our visual artistes and this fabric will now be accessed by a wider cross section of our community. Now that the borders are opening and foreigners coming, we will be able to sell the fabric to our visitors,” said Mrs Moyo.
Ms Tholakele Ndlovu of Zim Pick a Till said people can contact her on her cellphone if they want the fabric.
“People can call me anytime if they want the fabric and I will deliver. The materials are there and people can pay in local curency,” said Ms Ndlovu.
Ms Sikhanyiso Dlodlo Manyathela of Zilch Investment said it was a great opportunity for SMEs and they felt empowered.
“I’m excited at the opportunity of tailoring designs using the national fabric that is for everyone regardless of one’s politcial party. We have been empowered as SMEs in Bulawayo as we can do shirts and other outfits,” said Ms Dlodlo Manyathela
Dr Nyoni said the National Dress Fabric was for all Zimbabweans and had nothing to do with political parties.
“Let me emphasise that this is a national fabric, that represents all ethnic groups in the country. The national fabric is not a party regalia, it does not belong to a political party, it belongs and represents all Zimbabweans, so let’s wear it with pride,” said Dr Nyoni.
She said during Independence Day celebrations, it is Government’s hope that Zimbabweans will be dressed in different designs of the National Dress Fabric.
“Now with Independence Day coming to Bulawayo, it is our desire that everybody wears the national fabric. We have opened it up, we used to sell it through Ambassadors but now everybody who has a retail shop can go straight to the manufacturers, Kingfisher and distribute.
“Another challenge was that some of the Ambassadors were selling the fabric in US dollars only but now the fabric is being sold in local currency. People can swipe, Ecocash or pay cash even in US dollars,” she said.
Dr Nyoni said Government negotiated with Kingfisher Fabrics and the fabric is now cheaper and now many people can afford.
“It will start from $700 per metre and we are still negotiating so that the price is even lower,” said Dr Nyoni. – Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi