council loses $760k labour case

By Daniel Nemukuyu

Harare City Council’s bid to contest the judgment awarding its finance director labour damages amounting to $760 000, has hit the snag after the Labour Court denied the local authority access to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Harare City Council workers hoist new flags at the High Court in preparation for the opening of the 2018 legal year. — Picture by Memory Mangombe

Mr Justin Mandizha, who was employed by council as finance director, was unlawfully dismissed from work and a labour officer ordered his reinstatement or payment of damages.

The Labour Court confirmed the labour officer’s decision, resulting in the local authority seeking permission to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court.

Labour Court judge Justice Lawrence Murasi ruled that council had no prospects of success on appeal. He dismissed the application for leave to appeal with costs.

“It is my view that the Supreme Court is unlikely to find favour with applicant’s interpretation of the provision,” said Justice Murasi.

“Thus, there are no prospects of success on the two grounds of appeal. In the circumstances, I am of the view that the application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is devoid of merit.It is accordingly, dismissed with costs.”

Top labour lawyer Mr Rodgers Matsikidze of Matsikidze and Mucheche law firm represented Mr Mandizha, while Mr Charles Kwaramba of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni acted for the local authority. On May 18, 2016, Harare City Council wrote to Mr Mandizha terminating his contract of employment.

The following day, Mr Mandizha responded, seeking clarification of the reasons for dismissal. Mr Mandizha, irked by the conduct of his employer, took the matter to a labour officer, who ruled in his favour.

Mr Mandizha was reportedly fired for failing to steer the city out of debt and not doing enough to reduce ballooning salary arrears.

But he argued that his dismissal was unlawful on the basis that no proper assessment or evaluation of his contract of employment was done.

He said the compensation should be $760 000 and other benefits. Mr Mandizha joined Harare in 2015, after a short stint with Cashflow Solutions (Pvt) Limited.

He worked with the United Nations World Food Programme and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation before landing the council post. The Herald