I fear infrastructure sharing …

Garikai Dzoma Avatar

Quick, can you name this plant? Two points if you have seen it recently. Three if you know anyone in Zimbabwe commercially growing it.

I will save y’all some time. No. I do not and have never worked for Econet. My aunt does not work there either and neither does my uncle. Yes, I have an Econet line. No, I have never met Strive Masiyiwa and I am such a misanthrope I seriously doubt I would recognise the guy in real life anyway.

Now to the moment of truth: I think the infrastructure sharing being made by the government is bull. I am sorry I could not find a kinder word to use. I could give you a thousand reasons why I feel so strongly about this but here are a few.

Those who do not heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.

You see, 35 years of history have taught me one thing: Our government always has an ulterior motive for everything it does. Even if it seems otherwise, everything it touches almost always turns to ashes. The guys there have the singular talent to bungle the implementation of the simplest programs and turn them into the mothers of all failures. I am not even going to waste space by citing examples.

Come on people, this country is supposed to be teeming with Jatropha diesel powered cars! Show me a single one. To this day, the plant remains an ornamental plant in various suburbs around the country instead of the game changer it was once touted to be. I for one could really use a Jatropha powered generator to mitigate my power woes instead of expensive petrol.

Our government has a history of sounding so reasonable yet in the end something almost always goes wrong.

Talking of power cuts, what happened to all the Solar power plants that were introduced in 2013? We woke up one day to see headlines in the State media that screamed “Mega solar projects on cards.” The Matabeleland power project headed by a company called Intratek was supposed to start feeding 10MW into the power grid after just four months. Two years down the line, we are actually worse off from where we were in 2013 and we are actually generating less power than we were back then. Intratek is not exactly a household name either considering it’s supposed to be in charge of a $750 million project which would make it one of the largest infrastructure sharing projects. So you have to forgive me if I do not share the faith and enthusiasm for this infrastructure sharing project.

Charity begins at home.

Well, since we are talking about infrastructure sharing I think it needs to begin at home. Why not start by unbundling ADSL and allow other players? In a lot of countries, ASDL is still the cheapest and fastest way for the masses to connect to the internet while people wait for the FTTH pipe dream to become a reality. Well, I am just dreaming because the last time I checked, my home in Juliasdale which is nowhere as remote as Binga, had a cute analogue station that allowed me to connect to the internet at the amazing speed of 24.6 kbps thanks to the government.

And calling Econet out over infrastructure sharing over their pulling out of the infrastructure sharing is like having the kettle calling the pot black (or is it the pot calling the kettle black? I could never get that right). Why the State broadcaster should earnestly share the airwaves and its infrastructure (whatever little it has) with those who want to enter the broadcasting business instead of their partisan initiative that has the State masquerading as private players. Oh, in an ironic twist on events the interview about infrastructure sharing was aired on a radio station founded and formerly owned (I think) by the Minister himself!

Something always goes wrong along the way and oftentimes the government just ignores the initiative.

Whatever initiative that is started by our government goes through the cycle. It is turned into a jingle. The masses lured by the reasonably sounding rhetoric join the bandwagon and the unwilling are coerced into complying then ultimately down the line the whole wagon runs out of steam, blame is apportioned, the project is usually abandoned and left uncompleted. The jingles die down and attention is drawn to the new in thing: Remember Operation Garikai? The Jatropha project? The perennial Batoka project? Chinhoyi diesel? Indigenisation? The jobs promise of 2013? God, I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

I have very little faith in our government.

The thing is given all the reasons above it is unsurprising that I have very little faith in our government when it comes to handling things like infrastructure sharing especially given the way parastatals are run. State entities are supposed to be transparent and held to the highest standards of ethics given they are owned on behalf of the public. Instead, we have executives who flouted ethics with impunity and now it seems they are going to get away with it. Parastatals make losses and no one, it seems, cares. Most don’t even do what they are supposed to do. They don’t even publish their accounts as they are supposed to. That is illegal and yet no one is being sanctioned for breaking the law.

I am afraid of infrastructure sharing. I fear it is a good idea that is going to fail. People are harping about its supposed positives without considering the fact that history has shown that probability shows our government failing in such things more often than it succeeds.

Those who doubt me I have one word for you ZIMASSET. A lot of people said it would work. I didn’t and here we are.


  1. tinm@n

    Infrastructure sharing is good for the right purposes and goals.

    It is the sentiment and reasoning behind Supa Mandiwanzira that is misguided and severely lacking in leadership and knowledge.

    He thinks he’s running his backyard tuckshop

  2. G

    true they should first unbundle the copper infrastructure (adsl), radio and tv before we can take them seriously. i think thats one thing that was not highlighted at the infrastructure conference.

  3. Ignored Techie

    Only stupid people share their assets with thieves and con men!

  4. macd chip

    With this type of thinking, are we surprised why our gvt fails to do an meaningful business?

    We are persecuting our own successful local business people and businesses.

    What is different between what Mandiwanzira is doing now to telcos(econet) and what Gono did to bankers?

  5. Allaz

    The fruit is CASIMIROA EDULIS or WHITE SAPOTE or MAZHANJE ECHIRUNGU. I have three such trees growing in my backyard, but so far only one produces fruit. Don’t know who grows it commercially, maybe ME once the other trees start fruiting. They do rot VERY FAST though so I imagine its not the easiest thing to commercialize.

    1. Allaz

      Okay I think I’m wrong about the fruit. Those leaves are totally different from mazhanje. MORE PICS PLEASE!

    2. Allaz

      OOOOOH!!! Now I see what you did there … with the plant picture. I wasn’t around when that particular chapter in Zim’s recent history took place – I had run away to diaspora, so I haven’t seen that plant very often. But ndazoibata – NICE ONE! A young girl told me a story about how almost her entire primary school class landed up in hospital after eating those – apparently they actually taste quite nice just before they turn on you!

    3. Tapiwa✓

      Google image search identifies the plant it as “Euphorbiaceae Jatropha”.

      1. Dhiziri

        whatever happened to the high tech Jatropha plant? i digress…..

      2. Garikai Dzoma

        Three points to you mate. My point is you actually need to research the plant when we invested gazillions of dollars in the Jatropha project.

  6. proudly zii

    “Something always goes wrong” hahaha True dat.As 4 mi,i jst fear 4 Masiiwa

  7. proudly zii

    Abt this infrastructure sharing initiative,i jst hv a bad feeling abt it,its lyk i c DooM ahead of that,but on the other hand if this works lyk it z said it gonna b,we will all enjoy 4 realz

    1. Shark

      Our government believes making noise and writing bullet points for action items is a strategy. Well it’s not. Projects like these require time, planning and extensive consultations. The moment you see something discussed and implemented within months its a recipe for disaster. Government is not a startup, and it should not act like one. Another thing, these guys are trying to fix something that is not broken. I’m seeing it getting broken soon soon.

  8. Shark

    Nice peace Gari. All your points are valid, and your argument is solid. I fear though, Zimbo’s are naive and passive. They follow our government blindly, whether by design or some other means I am not sure. Why not have a petition to stop this sharing business from seeing the light of day? Remember the same team that tried to block Econet from becoming a reality now want in.

    1. tinm@n

      Why on earth would we, Zimbos, whom you despise…want to petition this?

      For whose interest?

      1. Shark

        I am a Zimbo fyi. Why, because it is our way of trying to change the course of History. To one day say, we did something to stop this from happening. When our children say, we learnt about Econet at school today. It was one of the best companies in Sub-Saharan Africa but it collapsed, and then they ask. So what happened? When our government meddles, things fall apart. Rather let these guys debate and come to terms on how to share the infrastructure without government meddling in. The past 20 or so years as a Zimbo have shown me a thing or two. Unless you my friend are living in a different Zimbabwe.

  9. Sagitarr

    Infrastructure-sharing is a great and most beneficial idea (especially to end users). However, judging this govt by its own dismal records on project delivery, I agree that failure is more probable than success. Who will call the shots – the owners of the majority infra-structure to be shared or the lodgers? If the farm-grabbing nonsense modus operandus is applied the lodgers will have more property and power which will be inversely proportional to the power to think and be productive. The tunnel this govt has dug for us will be deeper and longer. Supa asserted that this govt has bigger/more infra-structure than EW. Honestly? What is it being used for nhai Supa?

  10. Anonymous

    wel to be honest the author iz just emotional abt the gvt’s past failures as we all are, this sadly however does not mean Infrastructure-sharing is a bad idea , the fact iz its beneficial to the end user thats me and to be honest thats all i care , plus i feel we are jus quick to judge the gvt here i feel thy have done a gud job in regulating the telecoms industry coz shuwa if it wasnt for them tingadai tichiri ku per minute billing , remember how these telecoms companyz were against the idea , i ges makanganwa

    1. Garikai Dzoma

      “Is just emotional?” After all the evidence I have presented you still think I am crying me a river? Besides I never said infrastructure sharing is a bad idea. I sade it is a good idea that is going to fail just like land reform and a gazillion of other failures. People ignored the law and order in a bid to sate their need for land and look at us today. We are no better farmers than we were back then.

      1. tinm@n

        So because you and your folk were bad farmers and therefore failed to utilise make good use of this land, then infrastructure sharing will fail?

        How on earth does that correlate?

        You’re being overly simplistic and truly unnecessarily emotional

  11. Khal Drogo

    This is a complete biased article. Just bring on the facts and let the reads make their on conclusion.

  12. zvanga zvanyanya

    I strongly believe this is a matter of trying to ‘strengthen the weak by pulling down the strong’. Trying to strengthen net one at the expense of econet!