President Emmerson Mnangagwa dissolved the previous cabinet and now we wait for the announcement of a new one. Zimbabweans across all political divide are pushing towards a cabinet that delivers not recycling dead wood.
Former ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister Hon Supa Mandiwanzira has had his run in charge of the ministry for the past three years, since appointment in December 2014. His appointment came at a time when the industry had its own expectations and demands.
While he may had his huge scores and falls according to public expectations, the minister will need to be publicly judged if he has managed to deliver according to his mandate.
Supa’s top priority role was to pronounce policy and direction to drive the sector. Admittedly, he was also seized with crafting of the New ICT policy which has been a process passed on to three cabinet ministers including Nelson Chamisa, Webster Shamu and Supa Mandiwanzira himself. Up till now, Zimbabweans are yet to see the final framework, which was now a closed draft, officially awaiting cabinet approval.
Topical amongst policy issues, was the contentious infrastructure sharing policy which was heavily resisted by private operator, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe insisting that if they are to share, it has to be sharing not giving away free ride.
This is, however, being applied in reverse because the government itself should start investing in its own infrastructure so that when it calls for operators to share, it has its own infrastructure to offer on the table
The telecommunications regulator, Potraz last year saw itself swimming in the pool of controversy and public rage when they set price floors. This was a major policy blunder seeing the minister swiftly intervening to restore normalcy. Government arms should not play police to the industry sector, but rather allow natural competition with demand and supply dictates to pronounce the future.
While any minister can deliver the job so long as he or she has the right people advising and driving the ministry, it’s also of paramount importance to have someone who is knowledgeable and of passionate about the sector to propel it.
This trait can however only be found in someone who is young, vibrant and passionate about the sector, a trait that Supa had and would not miss the opportunity to sell the Zimbabwe brand.
Lest we forget, there are young innovators anxiously waiting to recieve the first ever ICT innovation funding towards their projects hence the need of someone who started this to finishit off considering the funding is close to launching according to close sources.
Silicon Valley in the United States was not simply created out of creatives who bring brilliant solutions, but more importantly, it’s a seedbed which the government, NGOs and venture capitalists are pouring in millions towards the creation of new solutions in the digital age.
If a country cannot have a budget towards Research and Development,(R&D),then we are not going anyway as country technologically and this is what the government ministers should be pushing for from the finance ministry as part of national policy.
Preservation of Intellectual Property and stimulating solutions from the masses is of a paramount importance, a case which the government has to take seriously if players are going to drive the sector forward.
These are some of the critical issues which the ICT minister should look towards driving the sector forward and Supa Mandiwanzira will need to be judged on how much he has delivered, can deliver if given another chance for the growth of the sector