Government ministries will soon be required to submit weekly activity diaries to the Office of the President and Cabinet as part of measures to monitor progress in the implementation of the country’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
Ministries and parastatals have also been challenged to embrace information communication technology (ICT) to enhance public service amid concerns that top officials in some departments were resistant to change.
Electronic governance or e-governance is the application of ICT for delivering Government services, exchange of information communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems and services between the Government and its clients.
Discussing during a one-day Zim-Asset communication strategy workshop organised by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) in Harare last week, participants said Government ministries, departments and parastatals should take the lead in embracing ICT-driven economic transformation.
Ambassador Mary Mubi, an OPC director in charge of public affairs, said efforts were underway to set up a Government portal under which ministries will submit a diary of their activities for the following week to ensure effective monitoring.
With the blueprint due for mid-term review towards the end of this year, collective efforts are required to ensure attainment of the set economic development targets. There was concern that several Government departments and parastatals still do not have websites while those with existing ones had outdated information.
“Let me exonerate ourselves on that one,” an official from the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services explained.
“The problem is at senior level within ministries. Junior officers would tell you they have information for updates and new content for websites but say it has not been approved by principals.
“This means the information we’ve will always be outdated because new content is subjected to bureaucracy. It’s critical to have functional government websites and we will be happy if the OPC helps us on that.”
Ambassador Mubi acknowledged the challenge.
“This is a management issue and we’ve been trying as the public affairs to suggest that people who run these websites should be senior officials,” she said.
“A lot of information is generated by ministries but how to get it is a challenge. We need to ensure that our websites carry up to date information that reflects the development of our society.”
Ambassador Mubi said a robust communication link between the government and its stakeholders was vital for the success of Zim-Asset.
The participants urged increased consultancy and engagement of skilled personnel to make sure government websites were attractive in terms of design, images and textual information.
Ambassador Mubi admitted that the government has a challenge in terms of manpower in the ICT section.
“In some instances we don’t have people in government who can design and run those websites. We’ve engaged the Civil Service Commission on that. We need to bring on board skilled people and not be so bureaucratic,” she said.
Embracing e-governance is at the heart of the government’s economic blueprint, Zim Asset under which at least 11 flagship projects are set to be launched this year.
Officially opening the meeting Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said the 11 flagship breakthrough in ICTs would be launched in areas of e-learning, e-medicine; e-liquor, e-visa application, e-company registration, e-passport, e-mining prospecting licensing and e-land application.
He encouraged stakeholders to formulate communication strategies to attract investors.