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Parliament summons Potraz

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THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology (ICT) has summoned the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and mobile network operators to appear before it next week to explain issues to do with tariff increases.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

MDC-T vice-president Nelson Chamisa
MDC-T vice-president Nelson Chamisa

ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira was last week involved in a slanging match with Econet following a stillborn bid to raise data tariffs.

The steep increase was reversed following a public outcry amid accusations the government wanted to use prices as a tool to block citizens’ access to social media in the wake of growing dissent.

Committee chairperson, Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) yesterday confirmed that his committee had invited Potraz and mobile network operators to appear before it.

“Potraz is going to appear before the ICT committee next Monday to speak on issues of tariffs, and we have already communicated with them and mobile network operators to appear before Parliament, so that we understand the motivation for the confusion we witnessed,” he said.

“This is in line with our oversight role to ensure business actors and stakeholders account to the public.”
Meanwhile, ICT ministry secretary, Samuel Kundishora decried the inadequate funding the department had been allocated.

Kundishora said the ministry, which was allocated $6 340 000 for the 2017 financial year, was underfunded despite the fact that “ICTs are a critical enabler and a low hanging fruit for purposes of facilitating ease of doing business in the country”.

The ministry also raised concerns over underfunding of infrastructural projects in the ICT sector, arguing the country would be forced to lag behind on issues like e-government.

Chamisa said other threats that would come out of failure to consolidate infrastructure in the ICT sector would be opening-up of duplication of receipts, red tape and wastage of resources.

As regards newly-acquired Telecel, Chamisa said the committee was worried that the 2017 National Budget did not reflect what government was going to put towards its acquisition.

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