Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Two software companies — Zim Assist Private Limited and Purple Divine Technology — have slapped the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora with a $3,5 million lawsuit for allegedly pirating a software for electronic student enrolment system.
Harare entrepreneur Mr Nyasha Matongo, who is the owner of the two companies, claims to be the author of the software that was allegedly “stolen” by Dr Dokora and his team.
The minister has already introduced the recruitment software in schools and is being sued both in personal and official capacities.
The two companies also seek an order compelling him to stop using the “pirated” electronic Ministry Application Platform (e-MAP).
It is also part of the draft order that Dr Dokora should be ordered to shut down the ministry’s e-MAP portal.
In December last year, Purple Divine filed an urgent chamber application to stop the ministry from using the system, but a dispute on the ownership of the software arose, with some lawyers arguing that the original idea came from Zim Assist, which was not part of the proceedings.
Purple Divine withdrew its application before issuing out joint summons with Zim Assist.
Harare lawyer Mr Charles Warara of Warara and Associates is acting for the two firms.
According to the plaintiff’s declaration, Mr Matongo, the managing director for both firms, is the author of the software for which the companies claim they hold a valid copyright after being developed in 2014.
It was later improved until it became a complete website supported by mobile application called “Purple App”, the firms argued.
The original software was designed in May 2014 under the name Zim Assist.
The firms claimed they later engaged Dr Dokora over the possibilities of introducing the system and the talks dragged for months.
It is alleged that the ministry then pirated the software and created its own, based on the companies’ idea.
The firms argued that the ministry did not participate in the copyright process, Dr Dokora did it privately.
They argued that Dr Dokora simply reproduced or adopted the original software developed by Mr Matongo.
As a result of the alleged unlawful conduct, the firms argued, they suffered damages to the tune of $3 550 000.
On December 23 last year, Purple Divine withdrew its urgent chamber application after High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi grilled it in his chambers over its legal standing to sue the ministry.
Purple Divine Technology’s case became more feeble when Justice Chitapi made it clear that the application was defective and improperly before the court.