The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has been ordered to pay a whopping $498 749, to five former customs managers who were unlawfully dismissed during a restructuring exercise three years ago.
The former managers, Elisha Tshuma, Sifelani Nhliziyo, Khaulelo Mawana, Austin Wamedza and Petros Shayanewako last week filed a chamber application for registration of an arbitral award in terms of the Labour Act.
Arbitrator Lawrence Gabilo awarded Tshuma, Mawana and Wamedza $102 615,50 each while Nhliziyo and Shayanewako were each awarded $95 451,50 as damages in lieu of re-instatement.
Part of the arbitrator’s judgment read:
“That the damages assessed be paid to the claimants in two instalments commencing November 12, and December 12, 2010 respectively.
“That the respondent recovers any exit packages paid to claimants at the time of termination of their employment contracts, and that the parties pay their arbitration fees on equal shares.”
Gabilo established the quantification of damages early this month, a year after the initial award which instructed Zimra to either reinstate or pay damages in lieu of reinstatement to the dismissed managers.
Zimra failed to comply with the initial order and appealed to the Labour Court against the award by Gabilo but Labour Court Judge President Betty Chidziva dismissed the appeal blaming the parastatal of approaching the courts “with dirty hands” after failing to comply with the order.
It was against that background of the failed appeal by Zimra that the five former managers approached the arbitrator for quantification of damages.
In February 2007, Zimra engaged in a restructuring exercise which resulted in the five ex-customs officials’ contracts being terminated and reconstituted into three-year contracts.
The Labour Court ruled unlawful the termination of the contracts and ordered the reversal of the move.
Two years down the line Zimra Commissioner General Gershem Pasi wrote again to the five customs managers reiterating that their permanent job contracts had been terminated and that they would now have to sign three-year renewable contracts.
The managers refused to sign the letters and were subsequently fired whereupon they took the legal course of action against their employer.
Efforts to get a comment from Zimra on Monday were fruitless.