Botswana Imposes 'Draconian' Dress Code
March 19, 2010GABORONE, Botswana (AP) -- Shorts, tight skirts and suggestive T-shirts are out and, in stifling local temperatures, men must wear long-sleeved shirts, according to new dress regulations for civil servants issued by Botswana authorities.
In an arid, largely desert nation where daytime temperatures soar to 100 F(38 C) the government has said that its employees in breach of the dress code face unspecified disciplinary action.
Botswana's public services directorate drew up the code and circulated it this month. No reason was given by the nation's traditionally conservative officials.
Botswana Secondary School Teachers Union in a statement Wednesday said the rules were “draconian” and accused education ministry officials of harassing teachers.
Justin Hunyepa, the union's executive secretary, said teachers complained government authorities were out of touch with reality.
“Dress is a condition of service and therefore should be negotiated with trade unions,” he told The Associated Press. In the hot weather “you cannot expect teachers to be wearing long sleeves all the time.”
The official order states government employees are not allowed to wear clothing that reveals “cleavage, bareback, chest, armpits, stomach and underwear.”
Torn, dirty, wrinkled or frayed clothing and “casual and gym wear including jeans and shorts” are also forbidden. Banned too are body hugging garments, clothing emblazoned with offensive words, cartoons and pictures along with “colorful hairstyles” and hats and caps indoors.
According to the rules, “religious and traditional head covers and headgears” may be allowed at the discretion civil service chiefs.
Keabonya Ntsabane, head of the Botswana Media Association, called for more consultation across the public service on the code.
“Some people may not have anything to wear because they receive limited wages and may as a result find themselves wearing torn, dirty or frayed clothing,” Ntsabane said.
Hunyepa said if authorities persisted with dress reforms, teachers demanded they receive allowances to buy new clothes.