ANC proposes ban of overalls in Parliament

2015-01-28 15:43

The ANC has officially proposed that Parliament bans the wearing of overalls, gumboots and hard hats by MPs in the legislature, saying that this was done to protect the dignity of the institution.

And the EFF has vowed to challenge the ban in court when it comes to implementation.

ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said when it comes to dress code, traditional and formal wear were accepted.

She said there should be a difference between members of Parliament who are making laws and people who are going to a club, to a shebeen and to a party – because even those people when they are attending a meeting, they knew they have to be presentable and be formal.

Dlakude, contradicting her ANC comrades, admitted that the real reason they were addressing the issue of the dress code in Parliament was because “what is happening in this fifth Parliament has never happened before”.

She said in the past, members of Parliament were “nicely dressed”.

ANC MPs have previously insisted that the proposed changes to Parliament rules, including the introduction of a dress code, had nothing to do with the arrival of the EFF.

Dlakude said it was “not on” for EFF MPs to claim that they wear the overalls and “makarapas” or hard hats to Parliament because they represented the working class. This was because “when the house is adjourned, they go to their offices and take off those things, why are they not going to town with makarapas and gumboots and all those things?

Dlakude said hard hats should be banned from the house because they were dangerous.

“They are weapons, if I can take it and throw it at you, it will hurt you.”

IFP MP Narend Singh had earlier dared the committee and ANC specifically to state that Parliament was calling for a dress code because of the “elephant in the room”.

“The elephant in the room is whether: can I wear a hard hat to Parliament, can I wear gumboots, or can I wear designer overalls?

“If we don’t discuss some of these issues in the dress code, then we wouldn’t have done justice on this topic,” he said.

ANC MP Juli Kilian tabled the party’s proposal:

» MPs must dress elegantly and in such a way that it does not impact negatively on the dignity of the House.

» MPs may not wear clothing or clothing accessories that display political party emblems or insignia nor should they wear informal wear such as jeans, shorts, T-shirts, golf shirts, track suits, caps or other items that can be described as informal or casual wear or that can offend the people of the Republic.

» We can say men may wear traditional clothes or formal wear like shirts with or without a tie and with or without a formal jacket.

» “Obviously” they should wear trousers.

ANC MP Richard Mdakane, who chairs the rules sub-committee, added that the list covered overalls, gumboots and hard hats.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu fought a lone battle on behalf of his party as the other opposition parties seemed to agree with the ANC.

He said the principle of the EFF is that people should come to Parliament dressed.

“We are going to continue wearing overalls in Parliament; we can’t pass a rule of Parliament that says we can’t wear overalls and clothes that are worn by the working class.”

He warned the committee that the proposed rules will not be within the country’s laws. He cited how Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, presiding over the swearing in of MPs, had not objected to them wearing overalls.

“He recognised them and appreciated the democratic right of the EFF to wear the clothes that it so desires to wear. You can’t now pass a rule that says we should wear this and not wear that.

“This is not just an issue of a dress code; it’s an issue of saying the ordinary people, the working class should know that Parliament is their platform as well, their views can be expressed symbolically and in terms of what we articulate as the organisation. So, let’s not go there. We can’t make electoral commitments and then when we come here, you are telling us that such cannot be realised.”

Shivambu said they understood the banning of shorts, takkies and vests.

Congress of the People MP Deidre Carter warned the meeting that it will be difficult for Parliament to start classifying items of clothing as “formal or not formal”.

“What can we classify as formal?” she asked. “Because we can say an overall jacket is formal as long as it has buttons.”

ANC MPs argued that the Madiba shirts for instance, Cuban shirts and African dresses were fine.

“We don’t want to prescribe in detail what they should be, but there should be a general principle that we agree on,” said Mdakane.

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