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14.03.2009 General News

Re: Sottie and Chienery Hesse in Court

By theghanaianjournal

Our attention has been drawn to two articles that were carried in the 2nd March and 9th March editions of the Enquirer newspaper concerning our contracts and business within the context of a law suit brought against us by one Messrs. Persol Systems Limited. The two articles are entitled “Chinery-Hesse's Son Hot Over ¢55.9bn Contract” and “Akoto Osei Runs for Cover As Court Fines Sottie & Herman Chinery-Hesse” respectively. The contents of those published articles are false and grossly misleading and we hereby wish to exercise our constitutional right of reply to the matters stated therein. The facts we rely on to set the record straight are as follows:

Mr. Chinery-Hesse, is one member of Softtribe Limited, a software development company. The entire membership as well as the company categorically state here that neither have ever been in or entered into any exercise, - collusive or otherwise,- with any of its members, and/or their family relations for the prospect of any financial gain through the procurement of any government business. The insinuations to that effect made in the articles above-referred to are entirely false and ill-motivated.

In October 2008 the plaintiff, Persol Systems Limited started a court case against Softribe Limited, claiming that the terms of the Public Procurement Act were not adhered to in the awarding of a contract to Softribe. We strongly deny this and categorically state that Persols' case against us is frivolous , baseless, and totally without any truth or justifiable basis. Since October 2008, we have filed a defence against this frivolous action, and the High Court of Justice, Commercial Division, Accra, threw out the Plaintiffs application for an injunction on the grounds that the Plaintiffs, Persol had failed to show to the Court that its case was credible enough and of sufficient merit to warrant the grant of an injunction.

Softtribe Limited won the contract for government payroll entirely on its own merit, in its undisputed capacity and status as the oldest and leading software company in Ghana. Indeed, Softribe Limited employed and trained all three founders of the Persol Systems Limited.

About Softtribe
Softtribe Ltd. was founded in 1991. The company has been in the Software development industry specialising in locally developed business applications.

We have been leaders in the payroll Softtware market for over 15 years. “Akatua”, our payroll Software whose first version was created in 1992 has run the payroll of multinational companies such as Unilever, Nestle, Guinness, Price Waterhouse Coopers and GTP for over 15 years.

We have well over 200 satisfied corporate customers within Ghana and spanning the globe and have won numerous local and global awards including The Millennium Excellence Award, Ghana ICT Awards, UK Ghana Excellence Millennium Awards, GPA Awards etc. These awards we believe were earned by Softribe because of our commitment quality and ethics employed in our line of operations.

The history of Softtribe's evolution from a small indegenous software house in a garage, to become market leader in the Software industry in Ghana/West Africa, is well documented by numerous Ghanaians as well as several independent international media organizations including the BBC, CNN and INC magazine among others.

Our talented team is made up of internationally acclaimed and recognized individuals including David Bolton, the famed computer wizard who wrote Software for the UK National Health Service at age 14 before being brought to Ghana by the former president H.E. JJ Rawlings as well as Francois Bonin, who is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) and a regional director for Microsoft. Our CEO Mr Tetteh Antonio brings sound management experience to the table, as does our mature Head of Finance, Mr Chris Attitugbue,(Former Head

of Internal Audit SGSSB)
Amongst the many reasons why Softtribe is recognised as the market leader in the Software industry in Ghana is our ongoing commitment to enhancing the capacity of many young IT professionals in a quest to impact positively the development of Information Technology in Ghana. Many of the graduates from Softtribe have proceeded to establish up and coming software houses of which Persol Systems is a good example. We consider this a source of pride at Softtribe. Softtribetribe's trademark “Tropically Tolerant Software Technology” (TTST), continues to draw and inspire young students from around Africa and the world to join us on internship basis to understudy this unique feature which considers and employs the unique characteristics and challenges of the African Environment into software development.

Anyone familiar with the history of the company, either from the media or from purchasing Softtribe's products, would attest to the fact that family ties are not part of the company's success strategy. A simple Google search on the Internet will reveal the solid credentials and goodwill that Softtribe has built over the years and how the company has been the leader in attracting global recognition for the Ghanaian IT industry. This trail was blazed by Softtribe and has snowballed into many opportunities for other Ghanaian software companies to explore growth beyond Ghana's borders.

Softtribe has a number of shareholders, of which Mr. Chinery-Hesse is one. It employs a team of dedicated technical staff, probably the most technically talented team in West-Africa. Mr. Chinery-Hesse, David Bolton and others founded the Softribe. Mr. Chinery-Hesse was the Technical Head in previous years and is today the Chairman of the Board. He is widely viewed as a leading light in the software industry in Africa given his track record and even being dubbed “The Bill Gates of Ghana” by the BBC and other international media houses.

Mr. Chinery-Hesse, has not been personally involved in the day to day running of the IPPD3 project. His energies are focused on the operations of a new company, BSL, which he aptly described on the TGIF show by KSM, as bringing to market a technology that will enrich the average poor rural African by facilitating the sale of their goods and services globally via the internet and mobile phones. Through BSL, Mr. Chinery-Hesse's vision of rural Africa engaging in Global trade will be actualized.. David Bolton is the IPPD3 Project Leader along with his team of technical consultants and all future project related enquiries should be referred to him at [email protected]

Given the background provided, we think it is quite absurd to describe the Softtribe as a company that operates on nepotism.

THE ALLEGATIONS vs THE FACTS
1. Mr. Chinery-Hesse has been taken to court.
Mr. Chinery-Hesse has no history of being sued in any jurisdiction. His only involvement with the courts of the land is in the prestigious role of assessor for the commercial courts of Ghana.

2. Due process was not followed.
It must be first recognized that tender administration and the award of Ghana Government contracts are the responsibility of the Public Procurement Authority. Softtribe which is a Software development company, is only subject to such proceedings as communicated to all applicants in the process by the office of the respective relevant tender board. It must however be noted that two separate bids were conducted before the award of this contract. The first was for a pilot backup for the IPPD2 system. Softtribe won this bid and was informed in writing to begin work. By the time the award letter was delivered to Softtribe, the arrears situation was so dire for the civil servants that Softtribe was asked to implement a full backup system instead of the pilot that was stated in the original bid. On the basis of this technicality, Softtribe refused to accept the contract unless a fresh tender that more accurately reflected the work it was being asked to execute was issued. Even though this represented a risk of Softtribe loosing a contract it had already won, Softtribe refused to pick up their tools until this was done. Softtribe won the second tender with amongst other clear advantages, the lowest bid price by far.

In July 2008, Persol lost the bid for the contract. Persol, subsequently applied for an injunction to be placed on the project. The courts declined to issue the injunction on grounds already mentioned above. In that instance the court ruled that the allegations were unfounded after determining that the contract was already being successfully implemented, and it was clear that the government was entirely satisfied with its performance. In addition to throwing out the application for an injuction, the Judge also ordered Persol to pay for the court costs as well as for Softtribe's legal fees. Softtribe still awaits Persol's compliance with the order to reimburse fees owed to them by Persol.

3. Akoto Osei engaged in talks with Softtribe before the bid process relating to a payment.

Softtribe had had no payment dealings with Dr Akoto before the project begun. When Softtribe dealt with Dr Akoto it had to do with his emphasizing the urgency of the need to process and pay long overdue arrears for civil servants, who had suffered for several years as faulty Software was used to calculate their salaries, resulting in many years of accumulated unpaid arrears.

4. Payment for work was made before award of contract.

Payment for the project was so late that work was over 50 percent done before the first payment was made. It is also the case that CAGD still owes Softtribe monies relating to the project even today.

5. Mr. Chinery-Hesse went to Akoto-Osei's office to request payment.

Mr. Chinery-Hesse was not in Ghana at the time payment was being arranged and executed.

6. None of the Software is in use, and might be causing financial loss to the state.

“Akatua”, Softtribe's payroll Software in question was put to good use even before it was paid for, as can be confirmed by many thousands of government workers who received the arrears payments which had been pending from as far back as 2003. Within 8 weeks of installation, “Akatua”, had cleared all outstanding arrears, placed before it.

7. Mr. Chinery-Hesse failed to appear in court last Tuesday.

Mr. Chinery-Hesse has never in his life been asked to appear in any court of law, much less fail to appear. This allegation is totally false.

8. Mr. Chinery-Hesse has been fined by the courts.

Mr. Chinery-Hesse has never in his life been asked to appear in court, much less be fined by a court.

9. Mr. Chinery-Hesse was given 2 weeks to appear in court.

Mr. Chinery-Hesse has never in his life been asked to appear in court. This allegation is a blatant lie.

10. Contract was awarded on word of mouth.
2 tenders were carried out. This is a blatant lie.

11. More emphasis was placed on technical performance of the Software than cost.

Softtribe has no evidence, but the company was informed afterwards that its bid was significantly cheaper than the nearest bidder.

12. A contract has been awarded to Mrs Chinery-Hesse's son, Mr. Chinery-Hesse.

The government of Ghana has never awarded Mr. Chinery-Hesse a payroll contract. Ever.

13. Mr. Chinery-Hesse has been dashed a contract.
The government of Ghana has never awarded Mr. Chinery-Hesse a payroll contract ever, much less dash one! Mr. Chinery-Hesse is a shareholder in Softtribe, together with David Bolton, as well as Institutional shareholders that include Fidelity Capital Partners among others. Softtribe is the company that won both Government of Ghana payroll tenders.

14. Softtribe submitted their bid late
Softtribe was the second of the three bidders to submit their bid. The bid was submitted on time. This was established in the injunction case that was thrown out.

CONCLUSION
Softtribe has surpassed all target requirements in it's execution of IPPD3.

Other African countries which face the same government payroll problems Ghana used to face are already talking to Softribe to and assist them surmount payroll challenges.

It is a great source of pride to us that this contract was so well executed by a Ghanaian technology contractor. It has taken 20 years to establish our hard earned reputation, and we think it is very unfair and malicious that any entity would try to taint our reputation with falsehoods. Softtribe strives to continue to remain a competent Ghanaian technology leader, making all efforts to make ourselves and our country proud. We do not and have never been interested in being drawn into the politics of the day.

Sour Grapes
Softtribe has been very surprised by the actions of Messrs Persol Systems Limited; which actions we believe can only be described as an extreme case of sour grapes. Anyone would arrive at the same conclusion as follows. Persol's complaint is that due process was not followed in the administration of the tender for IPPD3. Tender administration and the award of Ghana Government contracts are the responsibility of the Public Procurement Authority. If there was any suspicion of maladministration, the party to be sued would be the Public Procurement Authority, which is Persol's constitutional right to exercise. To therefore join Softtribe in the suit, makes no sense as Softtribe can not issue redress. It looks to us like a childish attempt to tarnish our image in reaction to the award of the contract to us.

Trial by Media
Since Persol lost their unfounded case for an injunction in court, articles started appearing in this publication making personal attacks replete with falsehoods on Mr. Chinery-Hesse, and insinuating corrupt dealings, which the court has already determined did not take place. This points further to the likelihood that this is a case of a bidder who after being declared not the most competitive, chooses to resort to dirty tricks rather than regroup and evaluate how to win next time.

It must be noted also that the case that was taken to court by Persol said nothing about Mr Chinery-Hesse much less his relatives.

The naming of Mr Chinery-Hesse in the matter is a complete fabrication of the media.

We think acts of this nature are detrimental to the Ghanaian IT industry and Ghanaian business and progress in general.

We just want to do a good days work and earn a decent wage, while remaining fiercely law abiding citizens. We think we should be left alone to continue to exercise our right to do so. We hereby demand that the Enquirer publish a comprehensive retraction. We hereby demand that the Enquirer publish an apology. Both the above in the same publication where they published their unfounded story. We would also admonish the Enquirer to apply themselves to researching stories before misleading the public in future.

This is our submission.
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…………………………………………………
Tetteh Antonio
Chief Executive Officer
theSOFT tribe

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