Since minister Kazembe Kazembe was appointed ICT minister 14 months ago, he has done considerably well to shape up the sector. His 1 year 2months stint was not easy and here is what we quickly noticed.
Top on his priority list and TechnoMag‘s expectation was that he brings the State-Owned Enterprises and Parastatals (SOE) to order by appointing working boards, that could get the job done.
Kazembe Announced New Zimpost, NetOne, Telelecel and Potraz Board Members.
TelOne was the only SOE that was never touched. Perhaps it was a case of if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
This is his mandate, and by any means, he did that, and yes well done for not maintaining the old dead weight, but rather being brave enough and listening to the industry to start off by firing the whole compromised NetOne board and appointing a new team, that has arguably done well.
Top of the effects of such a move saw the reinstatement of Lazarus Muchenje as the CEO of NetOne, who was suspended for not falling in line with the past board, not an easy decision to make especially considering he is friends with the former ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira.
The problems at NetOne stopped, but at Telecel it was and is still another story.
To date no-one really knows who owns Telecel Zimbabwe, this is a very embarrassing statement to come from me, especially considering the time I have had in the field and connections I have to understand the news.
I honestly do not know who owns Telecel Zimbabwe!
The government claims they bought 60% stake share Vimplecom, and Empowerment Corporation owns 40%. The 40% is still marred in controversy as James Makamba recently won the court case, settling the dust , but just for now.
The government is yet to prove or show the share certificate, Vimplecom has refused to confirm or deny that Government has fully paid for their shares and it seems the Russsian based organization has been given some mining rights before they sign off the deal.
This part of the deal is still shrouded in secrecy and the permanent secretary has refused to show the ICT parliamentary portfolio proof that they actually own the 60%, neither have they moved the balance from the Escrow account to hit Vimplecom.
Vimplecom as well has been threatening to reverse the deal and regaining ownership should the government not fulfill its end of the bargain.
This is a matter that you don’t want to deal with as a minister, especially when you think you have got control of an asset, only to be told by management otherwise.
This has forced Telecel to go on a spiral downfall.
Yes Kazembe appointed a new Telecel board to represent government, but still the biggest issue here at Telecel Zimbabwe is who is going to fund the asset.
The stakeholders are not investing anything into the asset but still getting hefty packages for useless board meetings. Meetings that locate an investor when their vehicle has few 4g base stations in only some few cities and towns and allowing the company to run only on airtime sales
Telecel needs shareholders that can represent their stake through equity. Someone has to fund the asset now and buy out the imaginary shareholders in a share dilution deal.
If both Government and EC can not fund Telelcel Zimbabwe they must simply float the 100% stake to a potential shareholder who has clear plans to invest the asset and allow it to run as it used to.
Telecel has already suffered serious management brain drain and its existence to date is nothing short of a miracle, the company must have closed, but, fortunately, it has loyal subscribers feeding their troughs.
The government project under ministry of ICT installed more than 146 Community Information Centres in Zimbabwe, turning Posts offices into CICs, of course, this was a noble move initiated by ex-minister Supa Mandiwanzira
Under his watch, Kazembe Kazembe installed more than 20 Moran bases stations, these are shared, passive and active base stations championed through Potraz and targeting remote rural areas with the budding financial environment.
We witnessed such an event in Gatshegatshe, deep down some 87km from Kariba, these people careless about civilization, with the local school registering 0% pass rate, they are one of the largest fish suppliers in Zimbabwe, hence communication is key.
Besides capacitating these communities, Kazembe showed strong traits towards good corporate governance, if Potraz did more than 20 base stations in his 1 year sting, it simply means he managed to force them to focus on the core business, not quasi activities.
Ofcourse on the policy issues, Kazembe managed to make the draft cyber bill pass through to sail to parliament, while contents of the document are still subject to debate, he as the presiding minister did very well to make that the piece of legislation gets a formal lifeline to be debated by parliament.
It goes without saying that he launched many government initiatives and policies while the minister and just recently the introduction of the Smart Zimbabwe 2030.
On a disappointing note, he was not active on the innovation fund drive, This initiative was launched by his predecessor Hon Supa Mandiwanzira and the mandate was clear to empower young technology players with outstanding innovations.
However, this process was handled in a rather confusing and self-praising style that saw less than 8 Zimbabweans benefiting, on that alone, it was a monumental failure, regardless the technical reasons to justify the lack of funds dispensation, the rightful beneficiaries did not benefit