Ministers and public officers attending President Lt gen ian khama’s meeting have been banned from bringing their cellular phones to the meetings. A savingram signed by Permanent secretary to the President, Cater Morupisi copied to different government departments and ministries states in part that the Office of the President is concerned by an emerging trend of mobile phones ringing during Khama’s meetings.
The Savingram did not state where mobile phones should be kept during the meetings. Permanent Secretary to the President, Morupisi confirmed the savingram. “We took that decision because the mobile phones are disturbing during His Excellency’s meetings,” he said refusing to state whether there will be a penalty for those who continue to bring their phones during the meetings.
“No phones will ever ring during his Excellency’s meetings because nobody will ever carry their phones to his Excellency’s meetings. As I have mentioned in the savingram from now onwards phones are not allowed during his Excellency’s briefings” said Morupisi. Human rights lawyer Tshiamo Rantao said it would be irrational if the move applies to President Khama’s meetings only. “Are the mobile phones ringing only during the meetings addressed by President Khama? What about other official meetings. It is so irrational if government is going to impose a ban on mobile phones in Khama’s meetings and allow them in any other official meetings,” said Rantao.
Rantao said the move is not fair on President Khama because it is more like creating a monster out of him. “The move will make him look like he is a messiah and it is not good for him as the President of the people. This is just an administrative issue which bears no legal connotations. It is more political than legal. If at all there is empirical evidence that there is a problem with mobile phones then it should apply to all official meetings,” he said. Khama could be the only President that has imposed a ban on mobile phones during his meetings.
But the latest development is similar to French President, Fran├ºois Hollande who last year April banned mobile phones from his cabinet meetings. Hollande explained that it was a way of ensuring that his ministers are paying attention during the cabinet meetings. Hollande’s ministers are forced to leave their portable devices at the door when they join the French government’s weekly cabinet meeting.