Thursday, February 25, 2010

Courtroom Comedy

I just can not stop myself from commenting on this. The full story can be found at Zimbabwe Situation but in short the State has found an IT "expert witness" in the trial against Roy Bennett (MDC member with very strong support, hated by ZanuPF and supposed to be Dept. Minister of Agriculture, at the moment on trial for "treason").

This expert was called in to give statements on the authenticity of some emails that are supposed to be from said Bennett regarding the treason charges. Note that only printed versions seems to exist...

a long quote:

"HARARE - February 24, 2010 - AN information and technology expert-witness who was called in to buttress the State's assertion that emails printed from Peter Michael Hitschamann's laptop were authentic in the ongoing trial of MDC treasurer general Roy Bennett, stunned the court when he revealed that he was not aware of the term hackers.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, State's expert witness Perekai Denchort Mutsetse, who claimed he is a provincial engineer for Africom based in Mutare, stunned the court when he said he was hearing the term "computer hacker" in court for the first time in his life.

"There are no such people called hackers. I am actually hearing that term for the first time here in court. Where are they trained? I don't know anything about hackers. They don't exist," said Mutsetse.

"There is no software that can be used to trace the originality or otherwise of emails. The website that created that email will be shown at the top if
that email is printed out," he said.

Asked whether he was aware that there were people called computer forensic experts Mutsetse said there were no such people in Zimbabwe but might be found in South Africa.

Mutsetse, who claimed that he had several certificates on data communications from the City and Guilds, University of Zimbabwe and Africa University, was also asked about the EnCase software used by computer forensic experts to which he responded, "Where did that come from? There is no such software in Zimbabwe; if it's there you must have brought it in here. I am not in forensics."

After given the example of the hackers who have been hacking information from the US Pentagon for years, Mutsetse simply asked "What is the Pentagon?"

Mtetwa also told Mutsetse that he was not qualified to be identified as an expert who can be called in to give an expert testimony with regards to computers and internet functions.

Instead of responding to most of the questions from the defence lawyers, Mutsetse continuously asked Mtetwa which led to Justice Chinembiri Bhunu to
intervene and ordered the IT expert to respond.

"The witness' function is to give evidence and the lawyer has to ask questions and not the other way round," ruled Bhunu

He said they tried to verify the emails by sending messages to the given addresses but they bounced back to show that they were no longer in existence.

Mutsetse also declined to talk about his position at work arguing that the company's policies do not allowed them discuss it in public. He also denied that he only passed 2 O' Level subjects in 1994 according to a CV that he send to one of his previous employers.

end quote...

You have to ask yourself a number of questions such as: is the guy joking? Is he being deliberately stupid in order to actually help the defence and not the State? Or is it simply that this is the only person the State can find that is not willing to lie in court and so they had to scrape the bottom of the bin?

To be called an IT expert and state that email can not be falsified or traced, being unaware of the term "hacker" and not know what Pentagon is or the attacks on Pentagon (hacker attacks that is) is an insult to everyone in my profession.

But I had a good laugh though...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Birthday bash

During the weekend a certain president in a southern African country celebrated his 86th birthday. That is of course great for him and his family.

However, for the majority of the citizens of the country in question it is nothing but prolonging the pain. The biggest obstacle to recovery of a once well working economy is spelled in the name of one old man.

There are theories that he is in many ways a great leader but, like Mwalimu Nyerere, does not understand finance and economy at all. In a way I hope that this is true. How can you otherwise defend the too-oft-repeated warcry of "sovereignty, indigenisation" etc etc. Can you eat sovereignty? Is it better that a company is owned or run by a local idiot instead of a foreign professional? What puts more money in the State's coffers?

WHY are local parastatals and companies not doing as well as foreign-controlled or owned? THERE lies to question to be answered and the solutions to be found. NOT in "we must own our own resources no matter how much we do not utilise them or frankly waste them".

Soulsearching is something very much lacking +20 years after independence in many former African colonies.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tongogara comes online

If you know a bit about Zimbabwe's history the name of Tongogara is known as one of the original freedom fighters. It is also the name of a local council nowadays, the Tongogara growth point.

Since 2006 I have been involved in setting up a so-called Telecenter there. It has involved quite a bit of hard work and patience, more for the people involved in Tongogara than for me, as it involved creating a business cooperative, raising funds, finding a place to house it etc etc.

Last year some equipment, including computers, were donated and training was done in October for the operations manager and some others.

Sadly however, we have not managed to find a way to bring telecommunications and thereby internet to the place. TelOne, the landline provider, says the switches in the area are full. The cellphone providers have coverage but very "spotwise" and not for internet anyhow.

But, as I think I have mentioned, Econet has promised coverage and they are also introducing 3G internet. Yesterday we went for a follow-up visit and I brought my 3G-modem just in case.

Boy was I surprised to find that not only could I connect but it was faster than what I get at home... we are now looking at how they or we can fund some modems and next step will be to make it a "true" Telecenter with internet and phones!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Heat, pains, phone and politics

I am spending the week in Maputo setting up an accounting (well ERP actually) system for use here. And it is steaming HOT here! That kind of heat where your shirt is soaked after an hour or so and you have to take a shower after work when it starts to cool down. And the office has no aircon and no fans...

Otherwise the sciatic nerve pain is sloooowly subsiding and I can now at least take reasonably long walks. Not having been able to exercise since November has not had a good influence on my waistline sadly. Am so looking forward to being able to hit the gym again! Weekend before last was in so much pain I could not sit, lie, stand up or pretty much do anything so it has really improved since.

Politics and pomms. Where do they dig up their foreign affairs secretaries in the UK? Straw was hopeless and now David Milliband hands Zanu PF a brilliant reason to refuse to fulfill the agreement they signed over a year ago. This by telling the UK Parliament that "when it comes to sanctions we must be guided by the MDC"... bingo. Exactly what Zanu wanted to hear as they have for months argued that MDC can ask their "western masters" to lift the sanctions, something that is of course nothing but stalling tactics. Well, now they have it "confirmed" by mr. Milliband. How come these oh-so well educated pommies get outwitted by a gang of ageing guerilla-fighters over and over again? When it comes to Zimbabwe they should by know that the less they say the better.

With the help of kind Swedish friends I bought a new cellphone a while ago. I have never really like the idea of "gadget phones" that can do x number of things apart from being phones but I wanted this phone as it can act as a radio transmitter and walkman, thereby assisting me to endure long drives I regularly go for. Well, I have become quite fond of the walkman functions (it is a SonyEricsson W980) and the fantastic headphones that came with it but it turns out that the radio-thing only works in countries where legislation so admits. And that means not in Zim, not in Zambia, not in Malawi and not in Moz. It works in SA - where you have plenty of good radio stations. Will have to see if there is a way to crack this block but apart from that really love the new gadget.

Finally a comment on the president of SA, Jacob Zuma, who is once again caught redhanded when it comes to his sexlife habits. This is the guy who was spearheading HIV/Aids prevention while at the same time admitting to having unprotected sex with a woman he knew to be HIV positive but "it did not matter as he showered afterwards"... for a long time all the cartoonists pictured him with a showerhead. Now it has been revealed that he has recently fathered a child outside marriage. That is, outside the 3 wives he is currently married to. And that the child was conceived while he was busy preparing for his latest marriage... To finally top it off this is again a daughter of one of his supposedly close friends (the HIV lady was a friend's daughter). Well what can you say? I would not let him near my nieces or sisters-in-law for sure and I consider it a huge embarrassement for Southafrica that their president can not control his urges and obviously let's his smaller head do the thinking for him. As for his wives, well it is their headache but I don't get how not even one of them are preparing divorce papers.