Enough with pathetic government websites, can’t something be done already?

Posted by

Zimbabwe Government WebsitesThis is going to sound pretty obvious to a lot of people who don’t see anything positive coming from our country but Zimbabwe has a lot of pathetic government websites.

Yes, that’s right, I said it. The moment you mention something remotely critical about the government some people get a bit uncomfortable.

However I felt I had to mention it in the spirit of speaking out about something that can be fixed without a lot of unnecessary consultation. After all we have a lot of talent locally that can do this

So where is the problem really? Who is dropping the ball? Is it the respective ministries, the Ministry of ICT or the developers tasked with carrying out this important job?

As most people know by now, the process of web development for State owned enterprises and the various ministries has always been handled largely by the Government Internet Service Provider (GISP). This is the “crack team” tasked with among other issues, creating web properties that represent the country on the internet.

advertisement

We are in the year 2015 so this task is no longer as complicated as it used be. Not to say that web development is a no-brainer, far from it. It’s just that now, thanks to the availability of tools and the internet as a resource centre, there should be better sites that represent the face of State departments, Ministries, state owned enterprises and even the ruling party ZANU PF.

Relevant content, User Interface and User Experience deficiencies

The main national website, Zimbabwe Government Online, is where it all starts. First of all, it’s commendable that we have that up and running, complete with some links to the latest in news related to Zimbabwe. However more should be done about the overall appearance of the site that does little to give off the impression that this is the best you can see from us.

There’s no need to launch into an exploration of UI and UX dynamics, but these sites could at least have the right balance of colour, a smart use of text that doesn’t jade a visitor and options for navigation that won’t confuse or put off a visitor.

There’s also a huge challenge of posting relevant content. Isn’t field related information more valuable than photos of a Minister who just might be moved to another portfolio when the cabinet is reshuffled?

Where are the necessary facts and statistics for each ministry? Why should anyone researching on local agriculture, mining, ICT/Finance NOT find data on the state website?

 Our image and impression counts

It’s a broken record from anyone pitching their services as a web developer: Image is everything and your site will say a lot about your organisation and in this case, country. I strongly doubt that this was considered for a lot of these sites.

Which makes me (and most likely other first time visitors) wonder; If the front yard looks like this what about the rest of the house? There’s the stench of neglect that’s in the air here and I wonder if we have other aspects of tech like online security on lock.

As far as presentation goes I would have expected kick-ass websites from the Ministry of ICT and the Ministry of Tourism, which is after all the herald of how wonderful our country is.

Although this wasn’t the case (unsurprisingly), tourism’s redemption has turned out to be the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s page which for purposes of national dignity is what is being used to lure our much needed tourist arrivals.

Keep your content updated please

A huge handicap that also grips parastatal websites and some private sector players as well is holding on to outdated information. Holding on to warm press releases can be ignored as some form of vanity but seriously, what does last year’s “exciting” calendar have to do with 2015?

A disturbing lack of responsiveness is best highlighted by the ZANU PF website. This is in direct contrast with the more organised ZANU PF UK website.

On the ruling party’s page there haven’t been any updates on information related to party structures, the Presidium (It still has the late Comrade John L Nkomo as the Vice President!) or the list of fallen heroes.

While we are on that tip, why can’t the National Heroes Acre have it’s own website which would be updated regularly and flooded with war stories?

Take Social Media Seriously

At the time of publishing the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services website was not working. As far as I can tell it’s been offline for hours now, it could be more but who can tell? After all no-one communicates this. This communication could have been carried out through social media.

Then again, There isn’t a well sculptured social media strategy for these state departments. This can be excused, for now, as a failure to adapt to something that hasn’t been fully understood by most nations around the world. In our case though, this might need to be done sooner than later because of the way sites like Facebook are the most popular with citizens.

Have you had a chance to use any state site? What do you think needs to be done to improve Zimbabwe’s government websites? 



28 Comments

  1. Freeman says:

    Just to be clear ZANU PF is not government

    1. G says:

      in zimbabwe zanu pf is synonymous with government
      pavakangoti postal service + ICT ndakabva ndatoziva kuti no hope

    2. joo says:

      Hahahaha you sir are a funny guy, tell us another one

    3. Skeptilicious says:

      Are you living under a rock Mr. Freeman?

  2. Th says:

    Pamberi neZANU-PF

  3. Munya says:

    You’ve raised a very important subject and one which I hope those responsible will listen to and take seriously. It’s a joke really that a country with more than 10 million citizens, should have such sub standard sites delivering government content.

  4. Munya says:

    You’ve raised a very important subject and one which I hope those responsible will listen to and take seriously. It’s a joke really that a country with more than 10 million citizens, should have such sub standard sites delivering government content.

  5. Dee says:

    I was once contacted to redo a government, after giving them my expert advice and quotation that was the last time i heard from them. My quote was reasonably fair so i guess they were expecting ‘free’ service. And still today their website hasnt been redone, and looks unprofessional, like it was done in a hurry. Maybe as web developers we must come up together and fix our national websites for “free” as a national duty.

    1. Th says:

      Maybe they left you out because you were unprofessional. If you were really professional, then you wouldn’t be posting details about this on a blog. Just my thoughts, no shots intended

      1. AAA says:

        Have to agree. I know people who’ve charged those guys much more than commercial companies… for crap. They usually pay and do pay for rubbish

  6. Dee says:

    I was once contacted to redo a government website, after giving them my expert advice and quotation that was the last time i heard from them. My quote was reasonably fair so i guess they were expecting ‘free’ service. And still today their website hasnt been redone, and looks unprofessional, like it was done in a hurry. Maybe as web developers we must come up together and fix our national websites for “free” as a national duty.

    1. Joyce says:

      They have more important things to deal with, think f(r)actions, land etc…

  7. Glonass says:

    In the country that I reside in, at 16 years you register on the Registrar generals website there you book with you birth certificate number date of birth etc and even upload a passport size photo then you get a confirmation of the booking which will tell you when your booking will be processed all you have to do is go to the allocated Registrars Office for a mini interview and finger print scanning to verify that its you and voila you National ID is out less hassles and no long queues. Its the same process with passports as well passport application fee is paid online chako kuenda kunotora passport wakabata National ID mumaoko and thats it

  8. Glonass says:

    You see the thing is that my host country’s government has invested in Big Data and the state knows your address, car registration number just from your National ID number. they have built massive Data Centres just for that at a cost of US$100 000 000. There are repositories for Birth and Deaths registrations, Car Registrations an Ownership exchanges, Passport Applications and Citizenship Applications etc So these data stores are linked and replicate data at a rate of once every 5 minutes. My beloved country can do the same. We just need amadhodha sibili at the top to see the light

    1. Ashley Young says:

      We need amadhodha ari young…

  9. Ed says:

    I can do the national website for free. Who do I talk to?

    1. Anonymous 2 says:

      Don’t sell yourself short. If they can afford all those nice cherokee’s they can afford a quality website. http://www.ictministry.gov.zw seems to be under construction for now so try this for contacts http://www.zim.gov.zw/index.php/government-directory

  10. Castro says:

    Those websites suck period. The things that these IT guys are taught at our local universities . Imagine being taught to programme using C… when there are more proper languages like Python. I wonder why ….

    1. [email protected] says:

      You think C is not a language worth learning and teaching?!

      Python is written in C, Mr WiseGuy. So are many of the most common higher level precursor.

      So is every system level instruction in Windows, Linux(you know…Android too), OSX, iOS

      The JVM is written in C.

      Almost anything that is system level, embedded systems(in your car,phone, TV,microwave etc) has a low level implementation built on a C or another language built in C.

      Go drink maheu or something.

      You dont know what you’re talking about

    2. Th says:

      You have to start learning programming from low level up to better understand concepts. Universities are right in what they are doing. Lol, Python does not suit all purposes, yes it’s easy to learn but at times it is up to 10 times slower than the JVM and CLR. Tell me one reason you would use Python in the enterprise instead of Java or C#

    3. Lukesoft says:

      How easy it is to embarrass yourself in public…..

  11. mina says:

    In your analysis you left out the MDC-T webside. Was that an oversight or it was deliberate?

    1. taps says:

      im wondering the same

  12. Wekwa says:

    I once visited the Ministry of higher Education site on the 6th of January and took this screenshot- http://1drv.ms/1BbOSEP. It appears they are still working on the site as the problem has been rectified. I think they are hiring developers who lack creativity. Its not govt websites alone, its a lot of Zimbabwean websites. Most of them are not appealing, a lot of them use flash images and sliders that take ages to load.

  13. Zvaita says:

    I blame the Zimbabwe Government Internet Service Provider (GISP) for this mess – even their website is Kak…and also http://www.mobilevalley.co.zw – they got tender to do this one…http://www.zanupf.org.zw/index.php?option=com_joomgallery&func=viewcategory&catid=2&Itemid=106

  14. Danie says:

    “I let people who like to talk talk, so I can easily see how full of sh*t they are”

    by Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 1 : The Movie…..

  15. Mark says:

    About time this was discussed. NRZ and Airzim have appalling websites as well. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make these websites more usable. Other countries have done it already so it isn’t like we’re asking for any miracles here. Go to http://www.gov.uk and see how a simple, uncluttered, well thought out design can help you do so much from getting a job to taxing your car to registering a death or applying for a passport.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.