New Public Servants Dress Code Directive Meets Resistance

The new dress code rules handed to public servants has attracted mixed reactions with liberals describing them as “narrow” and “less suave.”

The Ministry of Public Service this week issued a notice warning public officers over dressing in a manner that does not portray good work etiquette.

“It have been observed that public officers have continued to dress in a manner that does not portray the good image of the service and does not fall within the generally acceptable standards of the community,” reads part of a communiqué by Permanent Secretary, Mrs Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire.

Women, the law suggests, should dress in skirts that “are not above the knees”, wear “smart” blouses that are short or long sleeved, but not transparent.

Clothing should cover knees, navel, cleavage and back and hair should be kept neat and presentable while bright coloured braids and extensions are not allowed.

But former Presidential Advisor, Morrison Rwakakamba, says the new directive is “an idle move,” adding, “People should have a choice of wardrobe.”

He said the “choices listed in decree are narrow and less suave.”

Rwakakamba, who is the Executive Director, Agency for Transformation, further said the dress code for public servants is a “colonial legacy entrapment,” urging government to “Focus on skills and ingenuity.”


However, Deputy Government spokesperson, Shaban Bantariza sharply disagreed with Rwakakamba, saying, “dress code and service delivery are not in contradiction.”

According to the dress code rules, trousers can be worn by ladies during office time if they are smart and worn with jackets that cover the boson.

Accessories worn should be modest, and tight, fighting dresses and skirts are discouraged. For men, open shoes reflect indecency as well tight fighting trousers.

Only dark and brown shoes are acceptable for office hours. Men are required to put on trousers, long sleeved shirts, jackets and a tie. Only dark colours like dark green, navy blue, grey, brown or black are acceptable.

Rwakakamba said morals can be encouraged through evangelism and mentorship and not by decrees.

“Banning miniskirts, t-shirts etc at workplace sounds Trumpish and his Muslim ban,” said Rwakakamba.

“Public service should encourage diversity at workplace and focus on human resources skills, ingenuity and getting things done.”

Section F-J of the Public Service Standing Orders, 2010 provides for the dress code in the public service.

Paragraph 5, the communiqué shows, asks a public officer to dress decently and in generally acceptable standards in the Ugandan community.

The order defines decent dressing as “dressing in a manner that is socially acceptable and generallyconsidered to be smart, reasonable and portrays the good image of the Public Service.”

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