The Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Courier and Postal Services has raised security concerns over the use of a sole software supplier to implement the e-Government programmes in light of recent reports that the company, Twenty Third Century Systems, was recently acquired by a foreign-owned firm.
Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed EOH recently announced it would buy between 49 percent and 80 percent of Twenty Third Century Systems and its subsidiaries for an undisclosed amount.
The South African government, through the Public Investments Corporation, is the largest institutional shareholder while its chief executive, Asher Bohbot – an Israeli – is the single largest individual shareholder with about 5 percent of the group. ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira yesterday raised security concerns in light of the new shareholding structure as well as pricing of the SAP.
“The major supplier of the SAP is now foreign-owned and because they are major suppliers, they have access to sensitive economic data, posing a threat to national security,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
“Economic espionage could be rife and we need to be on the lookout. So Government is looking at ways to mitigate potential exposure of information to outsiders.
“We need multiple suppliers to mitigate the risk and we are working on a strategy which has already been approved by my principals.”
Minister Mandiwanzira said working with one supplier might result in the Government getting a raw deal on pricing.
Already, Twenty Third Century Systems has implemented ICT solutions to some Government departments valued at about $35 million. The company has a presence across the African continent with offices in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana and Nigeria and projects in several other countries.
Earlier, Minister Mandiwanzira had told participants at the e-Government policy drafting in Nyanga that the programme was critical in enabling the Government to reconfigure, recreate and modernise public administration using ICTs.
“This will have the net effects on inter alia, bringing the Government of Zimbabwe closer to the people, reducing red tape associated with traditional methods of service delivery and consequently addressing the numerous of our citizens,” said the minister.
He said to ensure sustainable co-ordination and implementation of the e-Government programme, there was need to put in place strong administrative pillars. The workshop is expected to come up with a draft e-Government Policy and Enterprise Information Architecture which will be submitted to Government for approval.
The approval of the policy will allow the Government to address issues pertaining to business-ICT alignment, information accuracy and integrity, infrastructure management, security, technology compatibility, business value of ICT and ICT governance.
“This will allow the design and implementation of our economic blueprints to be also influenced by ICT strategies and capabilities,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.