22 Jan 2015 17:30pm
MP DRESS CODE COULD BAN EFF OVERALLS
The EFF will never accept parliamentary rules that would compel them to relinquish their red workers' uniforms, MP Godrich Gardee said on Thursday amid plans to impose a dress code for the legislature.
"It will never happen. We are here to do serious work, not to discuss dress codes," he told Sapa.
"Where will it end? Next thing they will be telling us which colour underwear to wear and how to speak," Gardee said.
Had they existed at the time such rules may have prevented former President Nelson Mandela from wearing his trademark "Madiba" shirts to Parliament, he said.
A proposed dress code was among the subjects discussed by a rules sub-committee on Wednesday, chairman Richard Mdakane confirmed, but said it was but part of a wider revision of all parliamentary rules and not aimed at the Economic Freedom Fighters in particular.
Mdakane said a dress code had been in the pipeline since 2013, well before the EFF won 25 seats in the chamber. He hoped the left-wing outfit would bow to a majority decision on the matter.
"This is not about targeting the EFF in any way, but hopefully if there is consensus the EFF will respect it. We feel that those who are democrats, if a decision is against them, they will accept that."
Sandy Kalyan, a Democratic Alliance member of the committee, said all parties represented were in favour of adopting a minimum dress standard, except the EFF.
Kalyan said the DA felt strongly that gumboots, part of the EFF's uniform meant to show solidarity with the working class along with boiler suits, were "not appropriate" in the National Assembly.
She said other attire MPs proposed to rule out in discussions on Wednesday were "strappy dresses that show too much cleavage".
Kalyan confirmed that the meeting focused on proposals submitted by a task team revising Parliament's nearly 500 rules. The intention was to scrap those rules that were adopted wholesale from the apartheid era and were no longer relevant.
"For example there is a rule that says male MPs must have their heads uncovered in the National Assembly. That comes from the period when they use to wear hats as part of their formal attire," she said.
"That will definitely go because now there are MPs who wear traditional dress and a head covering is part of that, for both males and females."
Said Mdakane: "There are too many rules. Some of them date from the pre-1994 era and are no longer relevant. At that time Parliament was the final authority, but now we have a constitutional democracy and the rules need to reflect that.
"So a task team that began work in earnest last year has drafted a review document, which is making our task easier."
This week committee members discussed the first nine of 15 chapters, and will resume work next Wednesday.