Dikgosi last Thursday agreed in support of the motion passed by Kgosi Maruje Thabo Masunga (North East Region) to collaborate with cellular phone companies.
Masunga, in his motion, asked the Dikgosi to approach and request the government to consider commissioning collaboration with cellular phone companies (Orange, Mascom and beMobile) to set up Short Message Service to individuals to announce Kgotla meetings.
He said the cellular companies are in the business to provide management to people. Masunga said Botswana is one of the countries with the highest penetration in the cellular market.
“You may even see a person having more than one cellular phone,” Masunga said.
He explained that he had realized that most people do not attend kgotla meetings because they are never informed about them and added that when meetings are announced, some people would have gone to work while others have businesses to run.
He said that even when the headman is sent to inform the ‘Morafe’ (community) about the meetings, they do not find anybody at the homes.
“Even announcing around the village, the message does not reach people as expected. Also some would be asleep, tired from work,” he said. Masunga added that at times, the message would reach the community distorted unlike it were a single SMS sent to all of them.
Masunga noted that it is not a new thing, stating that the Transport Department alerts people when the vehicle registration is about to expire.
In addition, he pointed out that it could also reduce the work load that the Dikgosi have and help spread the message quickly at times of important occasions. He said SMS messages are used globally and that some are used for disaster management.
“It could also help the Ministry to alert people when there are disasters, such as floods, to stay away from such areas,” he said.
Masunga said the cellular phones have also replaced the in-house fixed phones and pointed out that, at times, the system may have weaknesses and people would receive the SMS after the occasion has passed or there could be a jam of SMSs. He said the ‘Bogosi’ (chieftainship) or kgotla has grown and therefore should be developed further with technology.
“Communication plays a crucial role, it determines how people meet,” said Masunga.
Kgosi Kgomotso Boiditswe (Serowe Region) came out in support of the motion, saying that even those at the Lands would be reached. He said it will also help alert the youth about the meetings on time so that they may take days off from work.
“It causes shame and embarrassment on us when attendance is poor when we have visitors,” said Boiditswe.
Kgosi Mnwakaupi Seemeko (Specially elected) said these days, even old people also have cellular phones and their children can read to them or inform them.
Kgosi Mosadi Seboko also supported the motion, saying the youth like and use cellular phones a lot and, maybe, this is the time they can be called to the meetings.
Seboko said although there are many ways through which the communities had been invited to the kgotla, this one would be an added way to deal with communities.
She said SMSs would also use polite and understandable words to the community.
The motion was debated in the 12th meeting of the 2nd Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, which ended on Friday.