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Updated 24 February 2013

Jeans and T-shirts for our MPs

Forget fancy designer outfits. Next year all our MPs should dress in blue jeans and white T-shirts for the opening of Parliament. Here's why, writes Susan Erasmus.

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Forget fancy designer outfits and colour-coded couples. Next year all our MPs should dress in blue jeans and white T-shirts for the opening of Parliament. Here's why, writes Susan Erasmus.

Every year some outfits work beautifully, others cause titters, but they all have one thing in common: they don't come cheap.

Some people look great, but understatement clearly is a concept that hasn't quite caught on with everybody. Some outfits look as if the 'designer' was given the following instructions: I want to stand out in the crowd and I really don't mind looking ridiculous. All things bright and beautiful etc. Spare no cost and the sky's the limit.

Here's an idea: What about spending nothing at all on outfits for the opening of parliament? I am not suggesting people attend in the buff, or dig out last year's outfit, although that would be a good start. What I am suggesting is that all 400 MPs and their partners, as well as assorted dignitaries and hangers-on should all attend the event in white T-shirts and blue jeans – and donate the difference to a charity.

It will be a real attention-grabber internationally.

We're talking at least 1000 people and the collective price tag of these outfits must be huge. Even if some outfits are recycled or home-made, I cannot imagine that the average price tag will come in at less than R5000 – and that's a very conservative estimate.

Next step will be to choose a suitable cause – maybe a support group for victims of domestic violence, or a children's home, or a bursary fund for poor students who have excelled – and donate the whole amount to this organisation during the opening of Parliament. Nothing could make a greater statement than that about the good intentions of our MPs as far as the people of this country are concerned.

What about pomp and ceremony, you ask? The answer is simple: we have had pomp and ceremony over and over again, and it hasn't really worked for us, judging by the last 12 months. It might be time to try something new. (By the way, last year's outfit is languishing unworn in the cupboard – somehow purple ostrich feathers and Pick 'n Pay don't really work together.)

What could make a greater statement than the President delivering the state-of-the-nation address in a T-shirt and jeans donated by a local clothing manufacturer? Also, these jeans and T-shirts can be put through the wash and donated to homeless shelters a day or two after the ceremony is over. This will also exhibit real solidarity with the poor and create another classic photo opportunity.

And on a more bitchy note, it will spare us having to look at outfits like those of Anele Mda and Pinky Mncube to name but two. So just in case you wondered, I have not become all sweetness and light and charity. But every now and again I too am allowed to be nice for a day.

And if I can do that, the MPs of SA can too. Come on, guys.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, February 2013)

 
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