Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya yesterday told ZITCA officials not to worry about the absence of a board at the authority because he has the mandate to carry out its functions in its absence.

And ZICTA spectrum monitoring manager Charles Nyirongo has lamented that financial constraints were making it difficult for ZICTA officials to keep up with the latest technologies

When the minister had an interaction meeting with ZICTA employees in Lusaka, Tuesday, a staffer, Stanford Hamukamba, asked when the board for authority would be appointed, lamenting that many things like the approval of the budget had stalled.

But in response, Kafwaya said there is no vacuum because he can still function as the board in its absence.

“I have 90 days [in which] to appoint the board and I am within the 90 days. It is a legal provision for ZICTA to appoint a board and the appointment of the board is not a secret. It is the minister who appoints the board. It’s that straight forward. Since I am the one sitting as Minister for Transport and Communication, I will appoint a board and I am very hopeful that it has to be within the time provided in the Act,” Kafwaya said.

“The budget, in the absence of the board, has been directed to the minister and I think there is no vacuum because since I have the authority to appoint the board, I have the authority to function as the board in its absence and if that budget has been directed to the ministry, that’s where I work and it’s at the right place. So your budget will be approved or not approved, depending on what we find. Yes, I did receive that budget and we were looking at it. There is literally no vacuum and even if I was not there, I am appointed by the President and he is there.”

And Nyirongo lamented that financial constraints were making it difficult for ZICTA officials to keep up with the latest technologies.

“My concern is on Control 99. Ever since ZICTA was introduced on Control 99, I think I have to be honest that our operations have been affected especially on training. I am sure honourable you know that regulation is not formally taught in universities. We have been acquiring that knowledge through attending international meetings provided by ICT but because of control 99, technology has been changing and most of us haven’t had that chance to attend these trainings because of financial constraints,” Nyirongo said.

In response, Kafwaya said; “I can’t change the legislation but I can support your thought. And you need to support me. Help me with the ability to promote what you are saying. Back me up.”

Another ZICTA officer, Brian Chileshe, then asked the minister to consider appoint a union member to the board.

Kafwaya assured the employees that the union would have representation in the new board.

“The Act provides who should sit on the board and a union representative is one such member. If we constitute a board comprised of nine members and we have more institutions, there is a chance that some institutions will not be able to provide a representative. But in all fairness, we have always provided that institutions which provided may have to forgot for those which did not provide in the previous board. So, if the union did not have a representation, we can look at bringing one from the union,” he responded.

Meanwhile, ZICTA manager for consumer protection and compliance Edgar Mulawuzi asked when government would put in place a legislation to mitigate cyber crime which was on the rise.

“I have noticed that there has been a high number of crime and the President also alluded to the nuisance use of social media. We have seen that there are a number of violations which are happening. Talk of fake news, cyber bullying and a number of violations and looking at the current legislation, some of these violations are not covered. And I am aware also that Zambia is also a signatory to the to the African Union Convention on cyber security and personal data protection,” Mulawuzi said.

“I just want to find out when the new legislation is going to be put in place because we believe that the current legislation is also a challenge in mitigating cyber crime which is on the rise. And just also to find out when the cyber security policy is going to be implemented because cyber security requires that we have a collaborative framework in order to mitigate against some of these issues especially that we are now in 2020, we have seen that there are a lot of violations which people using social media.”

And Kafwaya in his response said formulating laws was a long process.

“I do agree with you. I think we need to strengthen our policy framework and our legal framework. We need to be part of these international requirements. When are we going to bring this legislation into being? I will do my very best but I have to tell you that for a law to be in place, there are a lot of processes. We ourselves must make proposals and bring it to the ministry and the ministry will recommend to the Ministry of Justice,” said Kafwaya.

Kafwaya also asked the employees to avoid being partisan.