Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Cabinet began its 2020 business paperless yesterday, following the launch of the first phase of the e-Cabinet project by President Mnangagwa. The project is part of a wider programme to modernise the public sector and includes the development of electronic systems to speed up the internal functions of Government and improve efficiency.
The project, launched yesterday, was initiated in 2005, but its implementation was stalled by inadequate financial and material resources.
The President said the e-Cabinet project will also speed up decision-making in Cabinet.
“Today’s event marks the completion of phase one of the e-Cabinet project which will see the Cabinet secretariat carry out paperless administrative and secretarial functions,” he said.
“This is indeed part of the contemporary ways of conducting meetings and storage of information. Through this system, members of Cabinet will now be able to conduct all their work within the Cabinet room on an electronic platform that should expedite decision-making, information analyses and the execution of action plans.
“Furthermore, the e-Cabinet system will result in a robust database which facilitates easy access to stored records of Government.”
President Mnangagwa said the second phase of the project will be completed by the end of June.
“However, we will continue to distribute physical copies of Cabinet documents outside the Cabinet room until phase two of the project when the Wide Area Network is completed. Phase two of the project is expected to be completed by end of the second quarter of this year.
“Meanwhile, I exhort all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the necessary security circuits are in place and constantly upgraded to prevent undesirable occurrences and loss of data. The system must be equally adaptive to new technologies as they evolve to enhance public administration efficiencies towards the realisation of Vision 2030,” he said.
The President said the Government, in the Second Republic, was determined to reform administration and governance of the public sector through the development and deployment of appropriate ICT designs and solutions.
“As a nation, the attainment of upper middle-income economy status should be driven by science, innovation and technology hence partnerships in this regard will continue to be supported by Government,” he said.
“Equally within the ambit of the integrated results-based management system, Government has developed a whole Government performance management electronic system for planning, managing, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of public management. The operationalisation of the National Data Centre from all Government information will be managed and must be accelerated. In that regard, all Government ministries and departments must ensure that all their flagship projects are completed.”
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga hailed the President for accelerating the pace of computerisation.
“A key determinant on the attainment of Vision 2030 is the use of ICTs. As part of that roadmap, His Excellency, the President set in motion and accelerated the pace for computerisation not only by providing computers to disadvantaged groups across the country, but by also breathing life into projects that had stalled due to various reasons.
“Under his watch we have witnessed the establishment of genuine pillars of technology driven systems to spur development. Through his visionary leadership technology hubs continue to be established at institutions of higher and tertiary learning,” VP Chiwenga said.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said the launch was an important development in Government.
“This is an important landmark in our journey to modernise Government and adopt new ways of doing business,” he said.
“This system will ensure that we create a modern Government which uses technology for better services delivery to Cabinet.”
Head of e-Government Unit, Brigadier-General (Retired) Charles Wekwete said the system was home-grown.
“The system itself was designed by local people and the team included software developers, software engineers, programmers and other specialists in security as well as hardware and networking,” Rtd Brig-Gen Wekwete said.
“The development used local and international software development tools that ensure quality, reliability and efficiency to international standards. The system has been tested for reliability and resilience and we are confident that it will perform to expectations.”
The personnel who developed the system were drawn from the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Post and Courier Services, Government internet service providers and experts from 23rd Century Systems.
The system will allow Cabinet members to interface through laptops while a common view touchscreen which will allow common view of documents being discussed in Cabinet and collaborative work in editing documents during its sessions.
A back end system will allow the Cabinet secretariat to support Cabinet in preparing documents, filing them and archiving them and giving access to members of the Cabinet to servers.
The back end system allows seamless communication between the secretariat, the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, and the Cabinet Room.