Tech & Crime: Why is Registrar General’s website down?

Registrar General’s office

Is there any reason why Zimbabwe’s Registrar-General (RG)'s website is still down ( and under construction for over two weeks?

This is time for a partnership between the parastatal and the private sectors so that such an important service provider cannot and should not be offline.

The RG's office is one of the most important departments to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

This is the office that issues the important documents without which day-to-day living is impossible.

Surely why should such an important government department not have a working website that is up 24/7?

The latest digital diagnostic report says Zimbabwe has made massive digital advancements, including a revolution in mobile money, resulting in about eight million mobile wallet holders in a country of less than 15 million.

We as a nation should leverage on this adoption of ICT and make sure institutions like the RG’s office have the right structures to make it easy for our country men and women to acquire their legal documents. General Register Office is the name given to the civil registry in Zimbabwe.

The RG is the government agency responsible for the recording of vital records such as births, deaths, and marriages , which may also include adoptions, stillbirths, civil unions, etc., and historically, sometimes included records relating to deeds and other property transactions.

Zimbabweans' interactions with government websites are often memorable for all the wrong reasons.

These are websites that can be easily hacked and most are developed using Wordpress. 

According to our research that was done in August 2022, all government websites are designed, developed and hosted by GISP (Government Internet Service Provider).

We brought to the government's attention that none of the emails for the registered domains that have websites are either received or delivered.

This led to cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, Members of Parliament, permanent secretaries, to permanently use either a Gmail, Yahoo or a Hotmail as a means of Government communication.

Zimbabwe is still the most hackable country according to

The use of these FREE emails exposes our country’s secrets and communication to the outside world and the so-called enemies of the state.

The government of Zimbabwe  is one institution that supports the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media to reach out to the masses, but when it comes to official government communication, officials should be stopped from using Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or any other free email providers and use emails that are provided by our GISP.

If GISP does not have the capabilities then we should rope in Zarnet, another government ISP which is more efficient in terms of service delivery.

With President Emmerson Mnangagwa pushing for investments and marketing the positive image of Zimbabwe it is paramount that we get all government institutions to have a web presence.

Let's take a leaf from our neighbour South Africa, it is a requirement (government policy) for all government institutions, departments and local authorities to have a domain, email address, a website and effective use of social media to interact with partners and potential partners.

Every government should have a functional website, this is the first connection you have with citizens.

It may be an in-person meeting or a social post, but it is more likely that the very first time citizens engage the government by visiting its website.

The government website is one of the most essential tools for meeting the needs of Zimbabwe’s citizens, and so optimising it around the citizen experience is crucial.

Zimbabwe should make information easy to find and access, starting with accessing the RG’s office.

For an average internet user, the amount of time that one spends on any website is minimal­ — in fact, one estimates clocks in the average website visit to 15 seconds or less.

This is why it’s important to make valuable information as easy to find as possible.

Utilising your organisation’s ICT professionals may be valuable to rethink the structure, layout, and ease-of-use of your organisation’s website.

It may also be helpful to display easy-to-find links to meeting and agenda information, such as the agenda itself, archived videos and minutes from past meetings, and live streams.

By creating a functional website with easy navigation, officials can better connect with their constituents and ensure that the public stays well-informed at all times.

You might also consider adding a rotator so that when critical information comes up, you are ready to add information so citizens see it easily on their first visit.

While the website is the top platform for communicating with citizens, Granicus’ 2022 Digital Communications Trends report has more information on how government organisations are connecting with the public. 

Government websites are developed by the GISP. It is important to get these websites working for the good of the government.

If you need any further advice or information please do not hesitate to contact me on +263772278161.

Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution for Engineers. — +263772278161 or e-mail [email protected]

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