Hon Shamu, The ICT Minister We Won't Miss

Its been exactly 9 months since the Ministry of ICT Postal and Courier Services lost the man in charge, but if you ask anyone in the sector, things have really been better since the old folk packed up his all from the crucial office.

Unfortunately for Webster Shamu, he is one of the minister we struggle to measure his impact, if any at all he made during his short stint as the minister since appointment.

By Sting
Old age, natural fear of technology and basic lack of understanding of the technology itself dogged the man till his last day in office, and surprisingly, the last week before he was fired, for the first time ever Hon Webster Shamu appeared before the public with a tablet as he read his ICT achievers awards 2015 speech.

The tablet gave him a hard time when it went on power save mode during his usual long speech, his aides had to come to rescue, before he jokingly “fired” one of them in public. A minister is a policy maker, and lack of any policy shift, amendment or pronouncement during his tenure left a lot to be desired.

Shamu let the nation down by ignorantly allowing the government to circumvent him, while they reintroduced a bill which the then young and vibrant Nelson Chamisa had successfully fought for.

The reintroduction of duty on ICTs was nothing but a case of a minister sleeping on it!

I doubt if at all he noticed the change which caused a massive outcry, as most traders pronounced doom against the future of once recorded the fastest growing sector in the world by ITU, a heritage which only the minister was supposed to defend.

Not only did Zimbabwe see the re-introduction of duty on ICTs but the dry state coffers saw a walk in the park opportunity to even squeeze more from the second largest tax paying sector in the country.
For the first time in the country, Zimbabwe was slapped with a whooping 70% duty, a move which today i have always said will render the telecommunications sector unsustainable, dead and buried before someone else new tries to resurrect the once most promising sector.

The deepest cut was caused by 5 percent excise duty on airtime sales, a 25 percent duty on handsets and ICT products and a 5 cents levy per transaction on mobile money transfers, compounded by a 35 percent voice tariff reduction and all this happened just under his nose!

The ICT policy had gone through national consultative processes and awaiting finilasation, before the appointment of Shamu but the whole process was dragged and stalled, till up until today, Zimbabwe has no functional ICT policy.

This has forced the nation to continue to waste resources on debates and talks on pertinent issues like sharing infrastructure, mobile money regulation and internet privacy act.

Most of these issues were however deliberated during the nationwide consultations and there is lack of will power to drive this into a national bill. Besides the fundamental policy issues, Shamu was the only ICT minister who successfully shunned the media, he wanted no press conference before him and avoided every journalist who dared approached him.

Ofcourse we had to push through harder than before we got the opportunity to broadcast one or two interviews with him on Youtube, but these would be seriously timed and controlled confining them to the premeditated questions.

I guess this was just but a smart move to protect his image as any further questioning or chit chat would easily expose the minister of his lack of basic understanding of the sector he is supposed to be driving forward.

It is also the role of government to support and endorse private initiatives by locals to drive the sector while Shamu had a series of events he was billed to guest, a no show was now the usual outcome except only the Astro and Gtel launches become the top of the head private events he officiated.

At a certain point and time, a man will need to be judged by his results or even efforts thereof but yours truly find it very difficult as i scrounge the surface to give credit to the ex-minister.
One thing ofcourse, no one could beat him was in making a freestyle long speech, at one Telone event in Chitungwiza, he read a full English speech in deep Shona vernacular, to match up with the audience, this to date noone could take away from Webster Shamu.

He was a populist and propagandist, he could make anyone believe his words no matter the contents (probably the correct definition of a politician), i guess he simply deserved any other ministry which does not demand any technicality.

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