By Mourice Muhoozi
On July 4, 2017 the government through the Ministry of Public Service passed a directive that outlawed certain dress codes for both male and female public servants.
The public service permanent secretary Catherine Bitarakwate said that public servants are required to dress decently and in a manner acceptable in the Ugandan community as stipulated in section F-J of the Public Service Standing Order of 2010. As per the new directive, it is illicit for women to appear in sleeveless tops, high fitting dresses and skirts whose hems are above the knees.
Men are also not excluded as they were barred from putting on tight trousers and open shoes.
Most Ugandans have received the directive with mixed reactions with many trashing it. For example, the former Uganda Cranes footballer David Obua took to Twitter and wrote: “Oh you ministry and whoever heads you, just shut up.”
The move is, however, viewed rational. Just like the deputy spokesperson of the government Shaban Bantariza, I strongly support the directive due to a number of justifications.
Most public servants have despondently failed to meet their work ethics through their illicit dress codes. With this background, it is unutterably necessary to enforce a strict dressing code in response to the public service directive.
According to paragraph 5 of section F-J of the Public Standing Order of 2010, a public officer is supposed to dress decently in away acceptable by the society. This is congruent with the workers’ professional ethics. On the contrary, the faulted parties have on several occasions abused this by putting on indecently that is to say; wearing miniskirts by ladies.
Even after passing the directive, most public servants have adamantly kept a deaf ear. Thus, the directive should be enforced to thwart this rampancy.
Needless to mention, most public workers’ dressing codes greatly contravene the law of Uganda. That is to say, it renders the law of the state obsolete to put on attires that expose one’s sexual parts like thighs, breasts as stipulated in the Anti-Pornography Act of 2014.
A Ugandan local musician Jemimah Kansiime was the first victim of this act after she was apprehended in 2014 when she released a video of a song “Nkulinze”, dancing half naked as reported by the Daily Monitor newspaper. Kansiime’s case is similar to the public workers especially ladies who put on miniskirts and transparent blouses exposing their thighs and breasts.
This is total evasion of the Ugandan law and such people should be mercilessly dealt with.
Have these workers turned their work places into sexual show avenues? It is regrettable to remark that most public workers especially ladies put on sexually arousing attires at their work places. Such attires which expose their thighs have distracted their male coworkers.
This has also attracted crimes like sexual harassment as men are driven into making sexual advances to female workers which leads to low performance at work.
Nonetheless, there is a need to play an exemplary role by the public servants. It is phenomenal to assert that these people are leaders and role models to the young generation. Thus, in order to perfect morality, cultural and religious standards, public workers need to dress decently.
On a sad note, these people have portrayed a bad image to their followers through the practice of improper dressing codes like see-me-through skirts.
Therefore, the concerned parties, which include the judiciary, the church, and the police should work together to crack down illicit ways of dressing among public servants through condemnation and ruthless apprehension. This can help to face-lift the image of the public sector and differentiate public workers from the fashionable ones.
The writer is a second year student of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University.