Most initiatives trading on Nelson Mandela’s legacy have lofty aims and are virtuously pitched at consumers. The "must-have" T-shirt to commemorate the 2018 centenary of Madiba’s birth will be sold on a similar basis. The company that produced the T-shirt in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation depicts the garment as one to "inspire the fight for social and economic transformation". In SA, proponents of that slogan are puffed up with pride, but the T-shirt originates in a factory in Mauritius, owned by the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), which is vociferously committed to supporting local goods — the lifeblood of its members. "Embedded in the African DNA" is the T-shirt’s tagline, but South African clothing producers are scathing, saying it could easily have been made in SA. The cotton for the T-shirt was grown in Madagascar. It was spun, knitted and dyed in Mauritius. The cloth was cut and stitched in SA. The Mauritian component of the job cost ...

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