Parly to introduce dress code for MPs

2015-01-21 21:12
(<a href= ‘https://twitter.com/RanjeniM’>Ranjeni Munusamy</a> via Twitter)

(Ranjeni Munusamy via Twitter)

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Cape Town - Parliament is planning to introduce a dress code for its MPs, and it has nothing to do with the EFF red overalls and gumboots.


City Press reported that with the exception of the EFF, all parties represented in the National Assembly’s rules committee say a dress code for MPs is necessary to protect the dignity of Parliament.

“It won’t be prescriptive, but we must protect the dignity of this institution,” urged ANC MP Lemias Mashile on Wednesday.

The EFF has rejected the proposed code saying it was sub-colonialist, Stalinist and an infringement on the rights of an individual, and the party has vowed to ignore it.

The matter arose in a meeting of a sub-committee of the National Assembly’s rules committee this afternoon. The sub-committee which is a technical committee of the rules committee has been meeting since Monday to finalise a review of the rules of the National Assembly.

Introducing the subject, chairperson of the sub-committee Richard Mdakane [ANC] said they were not introducing a dress code because of the “gumboots”, but that the issue has been discussed since 2013 as some MPs have been complaining about not having a dress code.

EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu was the first to comment saying as far as the EFF was concerned it was unnecessary to introduce a code, and that as long as an MP was dressed, it was fine.

“I think the principle we should take on the issue of the dress code is that members must come to parliament dressed. Let MPs wear what they deem necessary.”

Shivambu said parliament must not try to impose “some sub-colonial cultural practices that people must wear a suit, ties and all those things”.

“We are no longer a colony. We must never fall into that trap.”

He warned that parliament was moving into a private space of an MP, and “the next thing you are going to tell us how to walk, then how to talk, how to say certain things, how to pronounce words”.

He vowed that the EFF MPs will not abide by the code when it is introduced.

His colleague, Godrich Gardee questioned the timing of the proposal saying it was suspicious as the dress code has not been an issue in previous parliaments.

“We are not employees of parliament, we were elected to be here and our voters knew when they were electing us that we were going to dress like workers,” he added.

DA MP Sandy Kalyan disagreed with Shivambu, saying that the truth of the matter was that parliament is a place of work.

She said while she was not in favour or over-regulation, she thought that as a courtesy to the institution and to fellow colleagues, MPs should dress appropriately. “By that I mean dressed for the work that we are doing in this dignified institution.

“I’m not saying you must wear a three piece suit and carry a walking stick, because that’s the picture you paint of the so-called colonial masters but at the same time coming to work in jeans, takkies is inappropriate,” said Kalyan.

She said MPs needed to have different wardrobes for different occasions and be properly groomed when they go to parliament.

“There are certain items of clothing that one dresses for socialising and there are certain items of clothing that one wears in a meeting and a place of work and that is all I am asking for. If I talk about female colleagues, one can’t dress like they are going to the beach, in camisoles and strappy tops and that sort of thing.”

Kalyan said how an MP dresses gives an impression of how they conduct themselves and how seriously they want to be taken.

Mashile emphasised that MPs needed to remember that they are representing voters in parliament and should look the part of people representing the thousands or millions who voted for them.

He said Parliament will not be prescriptive but will make sure that it maintains its dignity.

Mashile had earlier told City Press that the dress code had nothing to do with the EFF, and in fact, they as the ANC viewed overalls as work clothes. “Overalls are neither formal nor informal, but we recognise them as work clothes,” he said.

The IFP’s Narend Singh revealed that in his party, male MPs had an instruction from party leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi to wear jackets and ties at all times while women have to also “appropriately dress”.

“At the end of the day it boils down on what value do MPs place on parliament as an institution which is recognised as the highest legislative-making body in the country and how do we see ourselves fit in this particular space,” he added.

Political parties will consult with their caucuses on what dress code is acceptable for MPs and will report back to the rules committee in its next meeting.

Parliament does not currently have a dress code for MPs, but members are not allowed to display party symbols in the House or displaying banners and flags, party letterheads, party insignia, party symbols and clothing with logos and slogans.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  ifp  |  cape town  |  politics  |  parliament 2015

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