Zim economic intelligence in foreigners’ hands

via Zim economic intelligence in foreigners’ hands – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 4, 2015 by Moses Matenga

INFORMATION and Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira yesterday disclosed that government’s economic intelligence data was being handled by a foreign-controlled company, EOH Holdings, an arrangement he described as a security risk.

He said EOH, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed company, had acquired 49% shares from local firm Twenty Third Century Systems and its subsidiaries. The system allows businesses to track customer and business interactions and data management programmes.

Mandiwanzira made the remarks while addressing participants at an e-government policy drafting workshop in Nyanga.

“We are concerned that this company which is a major implementer of SAP (systems applications products) projects for government is now foreign-owned. It’s owned by EOH Holdings which is listed on the Johanesburg Stock Exchange,” Mandiwanzira said.

Israeli IT expert Asher Bohbot is the single largest major shareholder in EOH.

“Government concern is on the fact that they have been major implementers of government projects. The chances, if anyone intends to be funny, are that it potentially exposes strategic government information to foreigners,” he said.

“It will be easy for anyone to gather economic intelligence of this country. It allows anyone to have economic intelligence on the country, for example, all values of imports and exports carried,” he said.

Some of Zimbabwe’s institutions linked to the system include Finance and Local Government ministries, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, power utility Zesa, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, National Railways of Zimbabwe and other parastatals.

Mandiwanzira said there was need for government to review its options in order to mitigate the potential risk of information that is strategic getting into “undesirable hands”.

“We are not suggesting that through the sale by Twenty Third Century our fears will come true, but our fear is now higher,” he said.

“From a business point of view, the sale of 49% of EOH is an excellent commercial transaction, but from where we sit as government, it’s a terrible deal,” he said.

He said government would come up with a strategy to mitigate the fears.