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Row over online registration, Harare firm goes to High Court

By Tendai Rupapa

The dispute pitting a Harare company, Purple Divine Technology and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education over the ownership of electronic Ministry Application Platform (e-MAP), has spilled into the High Court with the software firm seeking an interim order to stop the ministry from using its concept.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango

The legal proceedings came a day after the company had given the ministry a 24-hour ultimatum to stop the online registration process.

The director of Purple Divine Technology, Mr Nyasha Matongo, is accusing the ministry of stealing his concept.

Through his lawyer Mr Charles Warara, he wrote to the ministry on Tuesday threatening legal action if it refuses to stop the process.

In the papers filed at the High Court yesterday in which Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora is the only respondent, Mr Matongo is seeking an order compelling him to close down and cease the use of the website or portal called e-MAP.

Mr Matongo also wants the minister to surrender and return all the documents he gave him in preparation of the setting up of the Purple online registration portal. Mr Matongo who also disposed an affidavit at the High Court said the ministry stole and pirated his idea.

He also attached minutes of meetings he held with the ministry’s officials and further correspondence on the project.

“I wish to state categorically that e-MAP is my company’s idea which was stolen and pirated by the respondent,” he said.

“It is applicant’s observation that since respondent launched his pirate e-MAP system, he has not disclosed where it was developed since officials in his ministry categorically told me their ICT department did not develop that programme.”

He added; “It is my prayer that this court stops the use of the pirate online system, which has destroyed our business concept due to the theft of all our ideas and the recent reports in the press, which are so adverse that it’s not working properly. It is not working properly because it was pirated.”

Mr Matongo also said that the continued use of the pirated system will result in financial loss.

“It is therefore urgent that this court intervenes to stop the respondent from continuing to use this system stolen from me.

“Any failure to stop respondent will result in serious financial loss to the applicant who had developed this idea with a view of patenting it and selling it in the sub-region. The respondent might sell the same or his company which he is hiding from the public and benefit from a stolen idea. This matter is urgent because if the court does not stop the use of the applicant’s system, the respondent will continue to pass off as the owner of this software,” read part of the affidavit.

Mr Matongo further chronicled how he approached the ministry with the idea and how he was made to do presentations at the ministry.

“Between September and October 2014, the respondent to our surprise presented the same idea to Cabinet without even asking us for authorisation. We then sent another document to the respondent’s ministry and the respondent again took the idea to the Cabinet,” he said.

“After my presentation before a panel in the ministry, the Deputy Director Policy Planning, research and Development Mrs Madzinga, asked me to load my presentation onto the ministry’s machine indicating that they wanted more time to review the software.

“We were later advised by directors in the ministry that the project was good to go save that the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango needed to approve it. I received a letter on September 30 last year stating that the project had been declined by the ministry,” he said.

He also added that when he contacted Dr Dokora for clarity, he (Dr Dokora) was shocked as to why his ministry had declined the project. Mr Matongo said Dr Dokora assured him that the project would go on as earlier planned.

“The outcome of our last presentation was that we had to do a pilot study prior to the implementation of the system in all schools. We constantly met the director of ICT in the respondent’s ministry on various occasions. At one time he called telling me that the Permanent Secretary gave her directive to inform us that we need to wait for a tender process as the project was huge and involved a lot of money,” he said. The Ministry was still to respond to the application. Chronicle

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