#MondayBlues: Must an ICT Minister Be a technocrat

The news doing round on social media that the newly appointed ICT minister Jenfan Muswere is not a technocrat and may fail to deliver on his mandate at the helm of the ministry is laughable.

This assessment has been drawn by people who wanted technical responses from a policy formulator during an AI televised interview. That was his only interview they probably ever saw, but well its about first impressions at times.

This school of thought is unfortunately regrettable and only driven by nothing but lack of understanding of how ministries work.

To start with the interview below was definitely technical but the minister stayed in his course which was policy hence he responded from a policy perspective, this was rather disspointing to many, but still it does not make the answers incorrect.

The most technical person at the ministry is the accounting CEO who is the permanent secretary, deputized by various directors under his minister, the minister is usually a politician appointed to drive party agenda through the ministry., and if he knowledgeable in the sector, he is usually the best man for the job, luck you!

Well according to yours truly, the most successful minister we have ever had was the finance minister, Tendai Biti, who by trade and training was a legal mind, but managed to run the finance ministry perfectly from the hyperinflation era to stabilization, managing the fiscus in a dollarized environment.

Remember government was not generating any much foreign currency but we never had shortages of any currency and the boat sailed in his 5-year term till he passed on the button because he simply believed that you eat what you kill.

The first ever minister of ICT Postal and courier services was Nelson Chamisa, nicknamed the supersonic Minister by the then-president Robert Mugabe. Chamisa was neither a tech guru nor technocrat, but registered tremendous ICT achievements for the country.

This is where we witnessed SIM cards dropping prices from the price of a cow to a mere $1 each, it was like a joke, but it happened, mobile phone prices also heavily dropped allowing access to all, as cellphones were a privilege for a few minority.

We had duty on all ICT products being waivered and this was a major sector boost that led to the formation of companies like G-Tide before splitting into two- in G-Tel and Astro Mobile

For the first time ever, Zimbabwe was recorded under the International Telecommutiion Union (ITU) as the world’s fastest developing country when our data penetration reached 45% from a mere 5%.

Webster Shamu took over from Nelson Chamisa, he broke our records he was the only minister who refused to entertain journalists press conferences, the reason was simple, he knew nothing technical about the whole ministry.

Shamu unfortunately knew Zero about ICTs and yes he had strong difficulties in using his own laptop, but he ran the ministry, for a short stint with no huge progress to record, sadly.

No noise was made about this development, everyone knew that time we truly had a dumb minister, forgive my sharp tongue.

The entrance of Hon Supa Mandiwanzira another non technocrat, but a veteran journalist and media mogul breathed fresh air to the ministry, he was youthful, energetic and passionate about the sector.

He did not have an IT background but no doubt he is one of the ministers that shook the sector since his appointment.

His most notable achievements were driving the national ICT Policy till it was launched, how he controversially dealt with data wars and infrastructure sharing till we saw some deals within some MNOs and of course introducing the all popular Innovation fund for all young ICT players. He left after installing more than 100 CICs nationwide.

He handed over to Kazembe Kazembe who was coming from the sports ministry but to date was the only minister who successfully brought back sanity in all State-Owned enterprises which virtually had grown into a cartel.

Kazembe Kazembe has proven that your past education has nothing to do with your managerial tactics as the minister or CEO of the ministry.

Today he is the minister of Home affairs, with zero police and defense history and no one is making noise or fun of this but like we already know, the home affairs ministry will never be the same under Kazembe Kazembe, he is one no-nonsense minister under the ED government, with zero shred of corruption or misgovernance, he knows basic corporate fundamentals running on business fundementals.

I can go on and on to describe non technocrats CEOs and ministers who successfully turned around their enterprises only to prove a point that we are making noise over nothing only to prove our ignorance over the sector and corporate business management.

The Newly appointed minister Jenfan Muuswere in no doubt the next biggest thing to happen to the sector.

Having been the only deputy minister for more than a year to appointed minister, he is likely to be the most experienced minister we have ever had in Zimbabwe and the only one to take the sector forward in leaps and bounds as he does not have learning time but execution only at his disposal.

We have already seen what he can do while acting as a minister if anyone doubts this pudding ask those who have eaten from it.

Running a ministry has nothing to do with a past relevant degree, though its somehow an advantage when someone has been in the sector, its not a pre-requisite and it is a wrong yardstick to measure potential.

Muswere has already shown strong zeal and commitment to the development of our ICTs and I have personally seen his drive to policy formulation and implementation as an amazing trait he has to champion our lovely sector.

Give him his term and judge him later, if I’m to put my money on his horse, I’m surely winning one to shame naysayers.

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