Social Media

MPs in fierce debate over dress code

A report by a parliamentary committee on ethics and good conduct giving a nod to women MPs to wear slacks triggered a huge stir in parliament this week. Speaker of Parliament, Tlohang Sekhamane, had to adjourn debate because of disagreements between male and female MPs on the issues, with only a few men supporting the report.

This content is for subscribers only. To subscribe, Click Here. Or Sign In

The Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Mofomobe, then suggested that the matter should be deferred to give MPs time to ponder on it.

Mofomobe’s worry was that “we are likely to infringe on the rights of women”.

“Women have rights too,” Mofomobe said.

The deferment was made after the Democratic Congress (DC)’s Makhaleng MP, Mootsi Lehata, argued that allowing women to wear trousers in the House would be disrespecting the King.

Lehata argued that the king is symbolically represented by the mace, which is always present during deliberations in parliament.

Lehata reminded the MPs that they are Basotho and have their own culture.

“We do not have to change things a lot. We should not forget where we come from,” Lehata said.

“Parliament is more like a court therefore people must not forget that it should be treated with respect,” he said.

“As long as there is a mace in here, trousers worn by females cannot be appropriate.”

The Mokhethoaneng MP, Mokhothu Makhalanyane, suggested that debate on the dress code should be suspended.

“We should just stick to what was always practised here until we are settled,” Makhalanyane said

“The dress code issue is a problem even in churches,” he said.

Dr Mahali Phamotse, the firebrand Matlakeng MP who was wearing a formal pair of trousers, argued that “members should not be scared to wear their clothes”.

“We must refrain from using the king’s name when raising our arguments. That is not correct,” Dr Phamotse said.

“The presence of the king has nothing to do with the member’s clothes that they feel comfortable wearing,” she said.

“It is true that some village chiefs refuse to render services to females who wear trousers. As for me, my village chief knows I wear like this,” she said.

“He always allows me to visit his office, I love trousers. They know it.”

She said voters sent them to parliament knowing well that they wear trousers because they were campaigning wearing them.

“The skirts do not allow us to travel comfortably in the mountainous places while doing our political job.”

Dr Phamotse said they would rather go to the king and ask for permission to wear trousers “or else the mace should leave this House and be taken to the Senate where there are chiefs”.

The Ethics and Good Conduct committee chairman, Jane Lekunya, said his committee resolved that male MPs should wear a pair of long trousers, a tie and a jacket.

“The formal attire for female Members of Parliament shall be a formal dress, dress suit or skirt suit, or Seshoeshoe dress with tops (short or long sleeved) and dresses on or below the knee or formal executive trouser suit,” Lekunya said.

Lekunya said sleeveless garments, khaki, Chinos, Demin, Hoodies, sportswear, casual shoes, trainers, or those bearing a similar effect shall not be considered formal attire.

“On Wednesdays, formal blankets, locally branded clothes and any other Basotho traditional regalia that conforms to work may be worn as formal attire by both male and female MPs,” he said.

He further stated that on Fridays, members may be in their formal political party attire bearing party symbols, district or national signs.

He said an alternative dress code may be prescribed for a specific period to deviate from the standing order to observe specific events or developments as the case may be.

Nkheli Liphoto

Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access

Already a subscriber?
Share the post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *