ICT Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has served at the helm of the ministry since December 2014 after rising through the ranks from being deputy minister in the Information and Broadcasting services ministry. He has not missed the spotlight since then.
Along his way, his first two years may have been the roughest as he ruffled feathers with some old guards, threatening the closure of Telecel Zimbabwe, enforcing infrastructure sharing, firing the Potraz board, driving the ICT Policy, #DataMustFall wars and instigating an audit against Reward Kangai.
Of course, all those affected by these would want the minister out!
Only the president holds the prerogative to appoint a government minister, of course in consultation with his inner circles, we hope the best for the sector and a sense of continuity there is going to be progress
For Mandiwanzira, this might have been the longest two years for his career path, but the future lies ahead, and whoever is going to be at the helm of our sector matters the most to us and our development. The mandate of the minister is to drive the sector forward, and the minister may have had victims in the process, yet the purpose is clear and inevitable.
The ICT Policy has been a major derailment and victim of government change. This policy has seen three ministers driving it so far, it was first with Webster Shamu, before Nelson Chamisa tried to direct it towards a different tone and now the Mandiwanzira era which is almost done.
These young players need to meet and converse with the minister more often as we drive ICTs forward, they are the daily peddlers of information, artwork, designs, and creativity over the internet, hence are critical stake holders.
The minister is highly commended for dedicating his first two years to this and pronouncing policy towards and direction in handling such.
To what extent the infrastructure sharing process was a success, well its subject to the operators themselves who finally managed to digress the matter into passive and active infrastructure, but more importantly, the government should own its own infrastructure and invite operators to run on it, as a better methodology to share.
One area which most ICT consumers would have wanted to see was the minister’s drive towards exemption of duty on ICT by Zimra officials at the national borders, a law which has been written down on paper and basically functions nowhere.
The #DataMustFall movement finished the drama war with a new Superman, Supa, charmed the hearts of many after overseeing the process and ordered the regulator to reverse the tariff floors and afford data access to all.
Call them internet cafes, but connecting communities to the internet with a bias towards the less privileged communities through Community Information Centre, (CICs),is one commendable drive the minister has been directing and personally pushing.
While its not sane to compare the minister with Webster Shamu, Zanu Pf may not have many young ministers who should not only oversee the ICT ministry but also should be consumers of the ICTs themselves, just so they understand what they are regulating over.
Passion and understanding of the sector matter the most to people like us because ICTs are complicated dynamic elements which deserve to be driven by like-minded personnel.
So come next week, may the best minister be named!