Fashion, style at parliament

FASHION was once again on full display as politicians and their spouses outdid themselves for President Jacob Zuma's second State of the Nation Address last night.

The opening of Parliament is Cape Town's annual fashion show, where politicians don their best or sometimes display their lack of fashion sense.

Former Western Cape MEC for community safety Lennit Max caused a stir when he appeared in a white shirt, pants and hat with a red waistcoat. He said his wife had dressed him like that because Monday is Valentine's Day.

One of the youngest MPs, Stella Ndabeni, heeded the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union's call for MPs to wear "Proudly South African" outfits. She showed up in a turquoise strapless dress by East London designer Sivo.

Nelson Mandela's grandson, Mandla, arrived in traditional Xhosa attire, complete with a lion skin over the shoulder.

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and his spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, hurried past the waiting media and headed straight for the National Assembly.

A slim Helen Zille arrived in a off-the-shoulder blue dress and declared 2011 a blue year in reference to her party's colours.

"This is an electoral year, so I decided to go for an electric blue dress," said Zille, wearing a creation by little-known fashion house De Villiers Couture and sporting a girlish hairstyle.

"I loved the dress he made last year so I asked him to do it again this year."

Former cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils looked cheerful and slimmer in a bright green shirt.

ANC MP Gloria Borman wore a green-and-white traditional Congolese ensemble, which she bought from a local dressmaker who works in a cubicle around the corner from Parliament.

Perhaps reflecting the gloomy mood in Cope, which is still split into two factions just months ahead of the local government elections, Mosiuoa Lekota wore the same checked jacket he wears every day to Parliament.

Lekota said he accepted Parliament's decision not to ban his rival Mbhazima Shilowa from the State of the Nation Address.

Lekota had earlier said Shilowa would not be welcome but Parliament said until they had satisfied themselves that Shilowa would not appeal Lekota's decision to expel him, they would not exclude Shilowa.

"This is the nation's legislature and anyone who misbehaves will be dealt with by the law," Lekota told the media.