By Fidelis Munyoro
The Labour Court has quashed a $3,5 million arbitral award granted to former Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) chief executive Dr Cuthbert Dube after he had earlier won a contractual dispute with the society.
Dr Dube won the $3,5 million arbitral award against the medical aid society in April 2015, entitling him to a monthly salary and benefits backdated to January 2014.
He won the money in two arbitral awards, one against Premier Service Medical Investment (PSMI), a subsidiary of PSMAS, for $2 070 000 and the other against PSMAS for $1 380 000, bringing his total claims to $3 450 000.
But Dr Dube’s hopes for the rich pickings were quashed after the High Court on Friday set aside the two arbitral awards.
Mrs Euna Makamure, sitting with Mrs Betty Chidziva, ruled that there was merit in the PSMAS and PSMI challenges and granted the appeal.
“In my view, in the two appeals, the respective arbitral awards are to be set aside,” said Mrs Makamure.
“Accordingly, it is ordered that the arbitral award is each case be and is hereby set aside and substituted with the following – ‘the claimant’s (Dr Dube) claim is hereby dismissed”.
Dr Dube was fired in January 2014 for awarding himself a hefty salary of $92 000 excluding other benefits from the group, and another $43 000 plus benefits from the subsidiary – PSMI.
After getting paid his allowances by both entities, Dr Dube would take home as much as $500 000 per month.
The two appeals were dealt with in one hearing because PSMAS and PMSI are closely related and the grounds of appeal were largely similar.
The appeals arose from the determinations made by arbitrator Mr Don Moyo.
Dr Dube had a written contract of employment with PSMAS, where he was the chief executive, drawing a salary of $92 000 per month.
He reached retirement age and was stopped from work, but the parties failed to agree on the contract, prompting the matter to be referred for arbitration.
Mr Moyo had to determine whether or not Dr Dube’s contract of employment was lawfully terminated, if not, what was the appropriate remedy?
He ruled in favour and ordered PSMAS to pay Dr Dube all his salaries at the given rate per month and benefits from the date he was last paid.
Mrs Makamure said Mr Moyo was called upon to decide whether the termination of contract was lawful or not, which he did not do.
“The learned arbitrator by making a finding that there was still a contract in existence between the parties, effectively made a new contract of employment between the parties,” she said.
“Making contracts for parties is not the duty of an adjudicating authority. An adjudicating authority deals with disputes arising from contracts or indeed interprets the terms of contracts where parties need interpretation of the terms of thereof in the context of disputes between them. They do not make contracts for parties.”
Mrs Makamure said there was no longer any binding contract between PSMAS and Dr Dube.
She said had Mr Moyo found that the contract had not been lawfully terminated, the appropriate remedy would then lie on whether to reinstate or make another order.
On PSMI, Mrs Makamure ruled that it was wrong to insinuate that Dr Dube’s contract of employment was enforceable against the firm.
She said the board, which was acting, extended Dr Dube’s contract for a 10-year period, but the same board reversed its decision.
“The position, therefore, is that the respondent’s contract was terminated upon him reaching retirement age,” she said.
Dr Dube, Mrs Makamure said, had no contract with PSMI.
Advocate Fadzayi Mahere instructed by Mr James Chikobvu Muzangaza argued the matter for PSMAS and PSMI, while Mr Jonathan Samukange of Venturas and Samukange acted for Dr Dube.The Chronicle