Open letter to the Honourable Minister Professor Amon Murwira

Open letter to the Honourable Minister Professor Amon Murwira
Published: 15 March 2019 (173 Views)
Honorable Minister Professor Amon Murwira, I humble submit, now maybe the right time for your Ministry to sponsor a true Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) bill through Parliament, which when it becomes law, the main objective will be to attain a higher standard of science, technology and both productive and transformative innovation; to contribute to national economic development and national security; to contribute to continuous improvement of quality of life and welfare of the nation; through prescribing 5-year policies and plans on science and technology development and deployment and the provision of the necessary support by way of funding. Such a development is more relavant in the Second Republic which has adopted market-oriented technological innovation and transformative innovation on the back of scientific research a national economy strategy in the context of industrialisation and modernisation towards middle income status by year 2030.

The proposed STI bill as law would establish a framework to strengthen scientific and technical research at national level; speak to the issues of: coordination of scientific research activity; human resources dedicated to research; promoting scientific and technical research and transferring knowledge; facilitating the promotion, co-ordination and regulation of the progress of science, technology and innovation of the country; assigning priority to the development of science, technology and innovation; entrenching science, technology and innovation into the national production system and for connected purposes.

Judging by the statement by President ED Mangangwa at the 12th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium as well as the stirling efforts by your Ministry as lead initiator of the rapid development of Innovation Hubs and Science Parks at our Universities and the Education 5.0 initiative, the Governmnent through the Ministry has declared its committment to lead science and this is proper.

The nation has awakened to the fact that with the Second Republic working towards a middle income economy by  year 2030 through industrialisation, modernisation and economic revival the role of scientific research and technological innovation is crucial. Indeed, during the recently ended 12th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium, His Excellency President ED further stressed that, ‘Research effort across all sectors of our economy must make a substantial and vital contribution to the development of our country."

Minister, I invite that we read the above statement by ED as both a word of caution as well as somewhat a directive. The caution is that scientific research and technological innovation cannot be a solo run by your Ministry independently. Same time, contained in the statement by the Presidium is a directive to network so that scientific research and technological innovation efforts by your Ministry will be in organic or integrated coordination with other national efforts on industry, economy, diplomacy, education, agriculture. Now and more than ever the nation require guidance in her all-out effort to strongly and strategically promote scientific research and technological innovation in harmony with all other government plans and policies for continuous improvement of the welfare of Zimbabweans to include even policies and actions for advancing the STI for achieving the SDGs. A practical approach to all this is securing a STI act of Parliament.

In the first republic one of the dominating main agenda was education and education for all. To this end, the Education Act 25:04 came into being containing the declaration of the fundamental rights to, and objectives of, education in Zimbabwe including making provisions for the establishment, maintenance and regulation of schools and teachers colleges, extending to all other allied matters connected to formal and nonformal education of the citizenry. The Education Act permitted for everything humanly possible to be done in progressing the education agenda.

In the Second Republic, unleashing technological innovation for modernisation and industrialisation and economic revival has been declared an essential component of a comprehensive economic strategy. The key to developing more jobs and more prosperity will be to create and deploy new or significantly improved products and processes. The recorded experiences of the developed nations is that it is developments in science, technology and innovation that fundamentally altered the quality of life from the way their citizens live, connect, communicate and transact, with profound effects on economic development. Today these tech advanced nations are living testimony that STI are the key drivers to sustainable development, since technological and scientific revolutions underpin economic advances, improvements in health systems, education and infrastructure.

The thinking on the STI bill, as proposed here, is that when it is law, prescribing national science and technology policies and national science and technology plans to include research manpower recruitment and retention, research and technological innovation funding will be a national priority. Another advantage will be ease with which your Mininstry can network with other Ministries. Even the interaction between Universities, Research Council of Zimbabwe, the sleeping giant Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) will be placed in the proper context.

Enock Jonathan is a Zimbabwean Scientist and Tecnologist readily contactable on email enock10jonathan@gmail.com

- Enock Jonathan

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