The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has been accused of approaching the Labour Court of Zimbabwe with dirty hands and has dismissed its appeal against the arbitrators’ ruling which ordered the re-engagement of fired workers.
The five former Zimra employees Elisha Tshuma, Sifelani Nhliziyo, Khauhelo Mawana, Austin Wamedza and Petros Shayanewako were employed as managers under various contracts.
Some of the workers were on short contracts while others were permanent employees.
In February 2007 Zimra engaged in a restructuring exercise that led to the organisation terminating the five employees’ contracts. Zimra then drafted new three-year contracts for the employees.
Zimra Commissioner General, Gershom Pasi, wrote a circular in June 2007 advising the five employees that the Zimra board had directed that “with immediate effect” the organisation should revert to the structure in place before the restructuring exercise.
However, in February last year Pasi wrote again to the five employees indicating that he had withdrawn the letter written in 2007.
The five then approached the courts and the matter was referred to an arbitrator, Lawrence Gabilo, who ruled that Zimra had unilaterally revoked the permanent contract in violation of provisions of the Labour Act.
Gabilo ruled that Tshuma, Nhliziyo, Mawana, Wamedza and Shayanewako were still in a
permanent contract of employment.
Zimra appealed against the arbitrator’s ruling with the Labour Court even though it had not complied with the award.
The five employees argued that Zimra’s notice of appeal would not suspend the operation of the arbitral award unless execution had been suspended.
The five argued Zimra had not sought relief from the court.
Part of the judgment by Justice Betty Chidziva reads: “. . . It is common cause that there is an award by Arbitrator Gabilo which award is binding
until set aside by an appellant court, Zimra had not complied with the award as at the date of hearing the appeal.
“To that end this court will not hear the appeal until the appellant (Zimra) has submitted itself to the law and approach this court with clean hands on the same matter.”
One of the five employees, who declined to be named, said Pasi systematically removed the officials from employment on all the Zimbabwe
borders replacing them with former taxes employees.