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Zim’s national dress fabric triggers debate… as ED orders redo of Mbuya Nehanda statue

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO THE country’s national dress fabric meant to promote and preserve national identity launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the State House at the weekend has been met with mixed reactions. The search for the national dress fabric, which encompasses State symbols such as the Zimbabwe Bird, the national flag and the chevron pattern, is said to have entailed comprehensive consultations with different stakeholders and ethnic groups from the country’s 10 provinces. First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is said to have assigned Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni to oversee the national dress fabric effort for her. In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style yesterday, some designers and stakeholders in the fashion industry said they were not aware of the consultation processes, which they felt should have been done through the office of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry. Seasoned fashion designer and director of Ashava Designs, which offers a wide range of African and ethnic wear, Rose “Ashava” Vambe, said it was the design of a national dress or outfit that defined Zimbabweans not the design of a State fabric. “I am not really for the idea. My wish has never been for the fabric because it (fabric) does not define us as Zimbabweans, especially this one they have just done. The colours are not even showing us as Zimbabweans. I am for the design and the fabric should just be our national colours,” she said. “The prints can be designed anywhere as long as they are national colours, the designs are what is very important for me, look at that fabric also, and it has no boundaries which designs can be made on. How can you expect to see someone wearing a bum short on a national material?” Ashava said the design of a national dress was long overdue and there was also supposed to be guidelines on how the State fabric would be worn. “As far as I am concerned, Zimbabwe is a cultural country with its own flag. If they would have wanted to go cultural, I think they should have used black and white and put that national bird. I am not against the national bird being on the fabric, but the colours which are not reflecting us as Zimbabweans,” she said. “I am for the dress itself not the fabric, the dress that would be an outfit or a shirt shows how a person should look. I don’t believe Zimbabweans should be identified in trousers as women, in shorts as women, in miniskirts as women, I believe Zimbabwean women should be identified by the way we dress, the fabric is not for me.” Another seasoned fashion guru, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of persecution, but sharing the same sentiments as Ashava, said the launch of the national dress fabric was hurried. She said those considered as local top designers should have worked on the national dress designs that identify Zimbabwean citizens wherever they go before the launch of the fabric. “There was need for an agreed different national dress design first that almost reflects the desires of t