Kenya speaker bans Kaunda suit, African dress in parliament

Friday December 01 2023

Kenya's President WIlliam Ruto in a Kaunda suit. PHOTO | NMG


Kenya's parliament Speaker Moses Wetang'ula has cracked down on what he described as inappropriate attire worn by MPs, even banning traditional African dress and safari-style suits favoured by President William Ruto.

Wetang'ula told lawmakers they must abide by the assembly's sartorial rules, lashing out at "emerging fashion trends that now threaten the established parliamentary dress code".

He said the so-called Kaunda suit made popular by late Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, a safari-style outfit sometimes with a collarless jacket, was prohibited, along with "traditional and cultural attire". 

Read: Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda to be buried on July 7

Ruto often wears sharply tailored formal suits but the Kaunda outfit is now frequently his garment of choice -- and he wore them during the visit by King Charles III that wrapped up earlier this month.

According to the Speaker's Rules, "a proper dress for men means a coat, collar, tie, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, socks and shoes or service uniform".


For women, skirts and dresses must be below the knee and sleeveless tops are banned.

Read: Africa’s women enjoying fraction of legal rights

Wetang'ula said he had been approached by several lawmakers who complained about the standard of dress of some of their colleagues.

"I have seen on TV members in committee meetings looking like street fighters. Standards of decency are a must in the august house," he was quoted as saying by the local media.