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Clothing Factories Cry Foul
Bulawayo24 - Online

Gweru clothing companies cry foul over lost MSU business
Local cloth designing companies in Gweru have said that they lost business worth $200 000 when the Midlands State University (MSU) contracted outside players to make graduation gowns and caps for students who graduated last month.

The University had 4 700 students capped by President Mugabe and these bought gowns and caps at an average price of $45 from three companies, all said to be based outside Gweru.

The University however, said material supplied by local companies was so poor that last year it affected the graduation of some foreign students. The local suppliers were also failing to meet demand, said the University.

Some clothes designers who popped in at The Mirror offices insisted that the University must strive to promote local industry by preferring local business people.

The University allowed its students to procure garments from just three companies; Mutare Garments, Budget investments and a third one whose name The Mirror could not establish. No student was allowed at the graduation ceremony without producing a receipt that showed that they had bought their gowns from any of the three companies.

"We are not happy, we think it's not fair for companies out of Gweru to come here and take over some of the businesses we should be given as local companies," said one of the designers.

MSU Public Relations Officer Mavis Mawere however, confirmed the issue and said that the institution had become increasingly worried by the quality of some of the gowns that students brought to the graduation.

"Yes we allowed students to buy from three clothing companies; Mutare Garments, Budget investments and the third one which I can't remember.
"On the last graduation, we allowed students to buy gowns from anyway and it was a big disaster because some of the quality that we saw was far below our standards," said Mawere.

MSU Registrar Erasmus Mupfiga who also spoke to The Mirror said it is MSU policy to work with local companies but the reason why they stopped that this year was because of the substandard material supplied.

"It's our policy that charity begins at home. Our first preferences is always the local company but this time we decided to take from outside because they fall short on standards.

For years we have been hiring local companies but for instance last year some of our foreign student nearly failed to graduate because the supplier failed to meet the demand and the students ended up graduating in poor quality gowns so this year we decided to put pressure on these local suppliers and this was the only way to do it," said Mupfiga.

He also encouraged all the local clothing companies who want to supply gowns to MSU to present themselves to the University so that they can be considered.

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