Do you feel like you’re getting terrible internet quality? Have you been gaslit to believe it’s you and your devices and that the rest of the nation is surfing the interwebs like pros? Well, here is all the proof you need that connectivity issues are a shared trauma.
The Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government was held this past Saturday. On the agenda were Zimbabwe’s disputed general elections held on 23 and 24 August 2023. That’s all well and good.
Except, the meeting was first held on the 31st of October, virtually. It was adjourned to the 4th of November after several people had connectivity issues. Said Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava,
The meeting ended because we were having connectivity glitches in the various places from which we were following proceedings, so the meeting became inconsistent because of audibility issues.
Yes, my friend. The politicians are not immune to the subpar service we have been getting lately. They could not even have a decent Zoom meeting (I’m assuming it was Zoom) and had to adjourn the meeting. Remember, this was a Heads of State meeting.
It is hilarious to visualise ED going, “Can you repeat that, Mr Chairman?” and Hichilema quipping, “Don’t pretend you didn’t hear anything.” Then ED comes back with “I saw Hichilema’s name light up, he better not be talking about me.” Then the Chairman decides to shut it all down.
What kills the fun in the above is the line that follows the one Shava gave above,
The chairman suggested that we should defer it so we could meet in person.
Indeed, the meeting was then held in person in Angola. As Zimbabwe’s elections were on the agenda, there was no way our president could miss it. So, the president flew out to Angola and you know that he has to travel with a team.
The Heads of State/representatives present at the meeting. Image credit – SADC.
So, in the end, what could have been achieved with a couple of gigabytes of data ended up needing a chartered plane, hotel rooms, travel allowances and everything that comes with travel. I think we are talking five figures here.
Dear taxpayer, you are the one who pays for all of this.
This means the connectivity challenges we are facing are costing you much more than you realise. Should that drive you to demand more from the internet providers? Yes.
Shava’s statement above suggests it wasn’t just Zimbabweans facing connectivity issues on the 31st of October. That changes nothing. Zim still needs to improve even if in the future connectivity issues in other countries may necessitate physical meetings.