Male MCAs from Embu County are demanding an immediate drafting of a County Assembly staff dress code, which will ensure “female ward reps and staff do not subject their male counterparts to unnecessary torture”.
According to Deputy Minority Leader in the Embu County Assembly, Newton Kariuki, some female MCAs and County Assembly staff “have formed the tendency of dressing in skirts that are so short that male MCAs either get too intimidated or overly excited to the point that they cannot walk in the Assembly corridors without suffering untold embarrassment”.
Kariuki, who is also the MCA for Muminji ward, urged the Speaker, Josiah Thiriku, to compel all female Assembly employees to wear skirts and dresses whose length go below the knees.
“When that is done, it will save male MCAs from the visual, mental and physical torture that the provocative short dresses have been subjecting us to,” said Kariuki.
However, the Speaker, who had just delivered a directive on the appropriate dress code for MCAs after complaints emerged that some female MCAs were, on several occasions, attending Assembly sittings while scantily dressed, declined to issue the orders sought, saying the dressing of members of staff was guided by provisions of the Public Officers Ethics Act.
Thiriku said MCAs must be dressed in suits, tie, socks and official shoes or an appropriate “national dress” and similar official attire for ladies; trouser suits or skirts that must reach below the knees before entering the Assembly lounge or chambers.
The only exception, he said, was for members who profess the Islamic faith, who are allowed to wear coats over their religious attire.
Nominated MCA Margaret Lorna Kariuki had been cited by Kagaari South MCA Robert Ireri as inappropriately dressed for arriving at the Assembly Chambers in a T-Shirt and jumpers, prompting the Speaker to throw her out.
The Speaker urged MCAs to ensure strict adherence to the parliamentary dress code to uphold and preserve the dignity of the House, further directing that no member of the public would be allowed to access the press or the Speaker’s galleries unless the sergeant-at-arms was satisfied that they were appropriately dressed.
Thiriku, at the same time, pledged to liaise with Clerk Jim Kauma to ensure that members of staff are decently dressed.
The Speaker added that he will compile the ‘Speaker’s Rules’, which, he said, will guide the dressing of both the MCAs and other County Assembly staff within the County Assembly precincts and while on official duty outside.
In 2015, members of the First County Assembly were the centre of an embarrassing spectacle after former Speaker Kariuki Mate ruled that clothing that revealed hairy chests, biceps for men and cleavage, navels and thighs for women would no longer be allowed into the Legislative Chambers as they were distracting MCAs from conducting business in the House.