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Poor Telecommunications Coverage Continues To Haunt Umzingwane

Umzingwane villagers are cut out from the rest of the world due to poor telecommunications coverage.

BY VUSINDLU MAPHOSA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAY 24, 2022  

As the world migrates to e-technologies with most of the country's urban areas having access to mobile communication networks, it is a different story in most remote parts of Umzingwane, Matabeleland South.

UMZINGWANE (The Citizen Bulletin) — In Umzingwane, it is still a nightmare to make a simple phone call. For learners, it is devastating as they miss out on e-learning, narrates Star Mbane, one villager from Longridge farm.

Mbane fears that learners like her current form 4 child in the district will continue getting poor O' Level results.

“We have been living in an information blackout status for many years. With the advent of e-learning having been introduced in schools, our children are the worst affected,” says Dingani Ndlovu, another concerned parent.

“It's almost two years now and our children are not seriously learning…We all know that Matabeleland has always been leading in the low pass rate. There is a need to come up with strategies and installation of boosters to improve networks and help children to be able to attend e-learning lessons.”
Dingani Ndlovu, a parent

“We have raised the issue of network problems several times. There were promises that the boosters would be installed a long time ago. But to date, we still face the same network challenges,” Ward 12 councilor Elliot Dube says.

With the advent of COVID-19 induced e-learning being introduced in schools, children are the worst affected. Image by UNICEF

Umzingwane is one of the districts in Matabeleland South which has poor telecommunications coverage, with villagers cut out from the rest of the world.

The most affected areas in uMzingwane are Munkula, Bezha, Dula, Kumbudzi, Newline and eNyandeni among others.

“Buying a cellphone has been a useless adventure for us here in Bezha because where will you use it since there is no network? It is unless you walk or travel to places where there is a network that is when you can make or receive calls,” he adds.

In some of the areas, villagers are being forced to climb trees and mountains just to make a telephone call.

Emmanuel Nkomo of Munkula says the community lacks information about many issues as a result of a lack of enabling telecommunications infrastructure to connect with the rest of the world.

“Sometimes people miss important information because of a lack of network. A lot of information is passed online. As for us if you don't have a radio you won't access news or any information about anything,” Munkula says.

“Sometimes people are misled because there won't be anyone to verify the information.”

When reached for a comment by The Citizen Bulletin, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Courier Services minister Jenfan Muswere was not answering his mobile phones, and did not respond to emailed questions.

ALSO READ: In Matabeleland North, Access To Healthcare Remains A Pipe Dream

But recently, during the launch of a community information centre in Matabeleland North, Muswere said the central government wanted to ensure that every district has access to telecommunications coverage.

Digital inclusion can only thrive where the community can identify themselves with the available digital content, explained Muswere.

But communities in uMzingwane say they have been left behind.

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