Senators allowed to wear traditional regalia in chambers

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 00:00 |
Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina dons a Maasai trdaitional regalia in parliament. Photo/PD/Samuel Kariuki

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka yesterday ruled that senators will now be allowed to wear traditional attire to the debating chambers.

His verdict came after Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina turned up at the Senate plenary sitting wearing traditional Maasai outfit.

The apparel attracted the attention of his colleagues who sought Lusaka’s direction on whether the Narok lawmaker was properly dressed.

“Mr Speaker, Senator Ledama is wearing what looks like a Maasai regalia. Is he in order because we can also come with all kinds of dress,” Wajir senator Ali Abdullahi told the House.

“He is not dressed in a formal manner to transact business in the chamber,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Ole Kina had attended two other committee meetings in the same attire with colleagues milling around to take a selfie.

It was not the first time that members of the Upper House have stood on a point of order to seek the Speaker’s attention to rule on a colleague whom they deemed to be dressed inappropriately.

The Speaker’s Rules (Revised) 2017 provide that members are required not to enter the chamber, lounge or dining room without being properly dressed.

Last year, citing Practice and Precedence set by other Parliaments that Kenya borrows traditions from, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi ruled that MPs must wear a coat, long sleeved shirt, socks and shoes or Service uniform – for men.

For women, Speaker Muturi said, an equivalent of formality should be observed and should wear skirts whose slit is below the knee.

But in his landmark ruling, Lusaka on Tuesday said the legislators will not be confined to their normal attire but may break the norm by wearing their traditional regalia.

Currently, only Muslim kanzus and male headgear, both considered as religious attires are allowed in the debating chambers.

On a Muslim kanzu, Speaker Muturi in earlier ruling on the manner in which those entering the House said that it universally recognised as formal dress despite being religious.

“The kanzu is acceptable within the rules governing dress code in this House provided that a member wearing a kanzu also wears a coat as an outer garment,” he said, adding that he was constrained from allowing MPs to dress in African or national dress.

However, in his precedent setting ruling, Lusaka cited rule 5 of the Speakers Rules which states that Senators are required not to enter the Chamber, Lounge or Dining Room without being properly dressed.

It further states that a male Senator shall be dressed in a coat, collar, tie, long trousers, socks and shoes, or service uniform, religious attire or such other decent dressing as may be approved by the Speaker from time to time.

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