The gist of the economic dynamics is that the impoverished Zambian economy is further impoverished by global trade forces and by the imposition of free trade by the IMF and the World Bank, and the t-shirts from the west are a symbol of everything that has gone wrong and will continue to go wrong with the economy. The symbol of the destruction and marginalization of entire industries and markets are cheap second hand clothing from the west, which are able to land in Zambia because of IMF mandates in exchange for aid.
It is a vicious cycle where external economic developments, such as the deterioration of the Zambian economy propels people to further buy second hand clothes, which then further cripple local manufacturers to the point where they disappear, further crippling the local economy. The idea is that this was the inevitable consequences of market economics prevailing in an economy that had nothing to offer but a weak currency and a poor economy against the powerful economic forces that the used American t-shirts represent (Jeter, 2002; Karlan, Retrieved from
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