I have been following news about Econet Wireless' attempt at bringing the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) to Zimbabwe for some time now. My own investigations as far back as 8 months show that the infrastructure has been put in place. In June 2011 I read an article in the Herald that PORTRAZ had jumped into the fray. Stopping Econet Wireless from continuing with the service or preparing for launch. I had hitherto waited to see if PORTRAZ can come up with something, maybe a license for the service. More than 6 months down the line there is no news about a license. At the heart of PORTRAZ's fears is a political hand with the following players:
Central Intelligence Organization
The Zimbabwe spy agency prides itself on nothing else apart from being a terror squad serving ZANUPF. Outside of Zimbabwe nothing has been done by CIO to advance the cause of Zimbabwe or its citizens. A normal day's work for the spooks I imagine is adding friends on Facebook, writing comments on Newzimbabwe.com defending ZANUPF or bashing the opposition parties. Some I am sure are dedicated to reading flagged emails flowing in and out of Zimbabwe.
My prediction is that if BlackBerry Service is launched in Zimbabwe, most opposition & business people will jump onto it because of the encryption offered. Despite having a different appeal to the spy agency both handle information that can result in a lot of damage if it lands in the wrong hands. For the opposition it will be a safe heaven and a vital link with members in and outside of Zimbabwe. Government departments like ZIMRA can also improve efficiency of service delivery with such a service. Zimbabwe has much to gain/save from this technology and if PORTRAZ carry out a survey they will see the positive far outweigh the negative. But when fear is the guide then the outlook is blinkered.
To give them some credibility, I decided to separate ZANUPF from CIO. At the Annual Conference one of the resolutions was a pointer toward a countering of anti-ZANUPF sentiment among social network users. Just how and what this countering entails is a point we are still pondering with an open mind & we give them benefit of doubt that it will be engagement in a civil manner. It is a yardstick in ZANUPF to look at everything in a negative light. If a ZANUPF person hear about any advancement in technology I expect him/her to think why its bad for them. But they need to look at the positives, Jonathan Moyo can do a Tsholotsho meeting via BBM group chat or the ministers can add Charles Ray to BBM with an alias like Bambo Razaro. In that way they can talk all they want without worrying about Wikileaks checking them out, see its a win, win situation. The factions within can also hold their meetings without having to see face to face therefore avoiding detection.
But as we saw, the issue of radio licenses proved that the fear runs deep. Perhaps PORTRAZ will be professional and recommend the service to be implemented as soon as possible because of the economic windfall creating vital employment, transfer of technology and a competitive edge with decisions being made much faster at corporate level. No more CEOs waiting for Monday to hold a crucial meeting for an important contract with an element of Foreign Direct Investment. In today's world time is at a premium, a day's delay can cost you millions. Zimbabwe badly needs every cent in tax and investment and our actions cannot be seen to be driving that down the drain. So stand up PORTRAZ and remove the blinkers and expedite the implementation of technology. Still I wont expect them to budge, their website does not even mention anything like BlackBerry on publications, we are stuffed indeed.