2 Cabinet Ministers differ on dress code By Pius Rugonzibwa THE CITIZEN Cabinet minister Sophia Simba has opposed the recent Government circular on a dress code for public servants, calling it an outdated directive. She wondered whose interests the circular issued by the Minister of State in the President's Office (Public Service Management), Ms Hawa Ghasia, was intended to serve. The directive was first issued in the early 1960s, but the Community Development, Gender and Children minister said in an interview with The Citizen at the weekend than Tanzanians had changed a lot since the colonial times, adding that it was astonishing that senior Government officials could issue such directives. She said there was nothing wrong with public servants coming to work in miniskirts or jeans provided they delivered at their workplaces. "The issue should be about competence and ability, not the way one dresses� we should assess public servants through their performance, and not their dressing style," Ms Simba said. The Minister said it was time Tanzanians concentrated on their work instead of wasting time debating people's dressing tastes. She said today's Tanzanians faced many challenges, adding that it was counterproductive to dwell on how people dressed. Ms Simba added that most civil servants were mature and well-educated people who had been public service for many years, and did not need to be reminded on how to dress properly. She said her office had not been furnished with the circular, and added that it would not pass without her comment once it arrived. She said Tanzanians should not entertain such circulars as the world had changed and Tanzania, being part of the international community, had also changed as it strived to keep pace with advances made in various fields. The minister said it was funny that people should be debating how people should dress instead of working hard to raise productivity. Tanzania should strive to find solutions to problems the country was facing instead of entertaining outdated thoughts, Ms Simba said, adding that rewinding the "tapes of colonial music" will not help the country in this era of globalisation. She said the story about jeans and miniskirts reminded her of the 1984 government directive banning the importation of computers on the grounds that they were luxurious items. Not surprisingly, computers started finding their way into the country in large numbers a decade later, and nobody had spoken out against them since, she added. "Let us not allow these ideas to divide the nation and confuse us. Do you remember an order prohibiting female Muslim students from putting on �hijabs' at schools? What is happening now? "It is normal for such directives die a natural death. Let people put on outfits of their choice provided they don't break the laws of the land or violate regulations governing their employment," she said. Ms Simba said the best way to ensure that public servants dressed decently was to state this in their letters of appointment and warn those dressing indecently through internal memorandums. "Let us be frank�what is wrong with seeing a beautiful lady in her miniskirt busy in her office? I think we need to change our mindsets on the way we judge things. "We are almost swept away by globalisation and we cannot avoid modernising some of our traditions provided they don't harm any body," Ms Simba said. She added, however, that she had nothing against her Cabinet colleague, saying it was the timing of the directive that was troubling her. Ms Simba said Tanzanians must also accept the fact that the style of delivering services had also changed radically. "Let me express my opinion on this�those who are campaigning against miniskirts or jeans should think twice. They have to visit other places like banks and see those ladies over there. They look nice. Don't they? I mean, we need to change," she insisted. She said even before globalisation, Africa had its own style of dressing and recalled her years in school when women used to wear miniskirts "and nobody cared". She wondered whether people then were more civilised than now. The minister said it was wise to remind Tanzanians that the country had so many circulars in the archives that were outdated, citing the one that prohibited public servants from buying or importing saloon cars in the late 1970s. She said civil servants were restricted to driving pickups on the grounds that owning saloon cars was an attempt to live a luxurious life, contrary to the Arusha Declaration of 1967. Ms Simba said saloon cars were now scattered everywhere to the extent that the roads "cannot even accommodate them".