The Labour Court has ordered Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) to pay a former senior employee over $180 000 in damages for prematurely terminating her contract.
Abigail Mvududu was employed by the then ZBC from November 1996 and at the time of termination of her contract she was head of Radio and Television Services.
In her submissions, Mvududu said her contract was supposed to expire in August 2007 but was prematurely terminated in January 2004 and she had reached an agreement with the employer that she would be paid for the premature termination of the contract.
“ . . . the respondent (ZBH) decided to terminate the contract on the understanding that the claimant would be paid balance of the contract period of 40 months,” read part of her submissions to the court.
“Respondent then reneged on its promises and refused to pay the agreed months (sic).”
ZBH made its submissions contesting the claim on the grounds that at the time Mvududu’s contract was terminated, the country was using the Zimbabwean dollar and therefore she was not entitled to payment in foreign currency.
“ . . . Human Resources further submits that claimant’s contract of employment was to terminate lawfully in 2007, a period which salaries/remunerations was based in Zimbabwean dollars not foreign currency and argues that there is no justification in assessing damages in United States dollars,” ZBH submitted.
But Labour Court arbitrator Lawrence Gabilo in his judgment summary said after having read the submissions by both parties, he felt that ZBH had failed to convince the court that they should pay Zimbabwean dollar currency to Mvududu.
“The respondent (ZBH) has failed to convince this court to assess damages in Zimbabwean dollars currency. The respondent faulted by not entering into negotiation with the claimant (Mvududu) in order to agree on the quantum of damages. There’s no proof that the Labour Court quantified damages when it decided on the matter. The claimant proved that she was willing to resolve the matter amicably but was not assisted by the respondent,” he said.
Gabilo then ordered ZBH to pay Mvududu full salary from date of termination of contract to the date it was supposed to be lawfully terminated and also her full allowances.
“It is against this background that this order is made. Accordingly it is ordered that the respondent pay applicant salaries for 40 months at the salary of second level at $2 515,63 per month which amounts to $100 625,52; allowance at the second level for 40 months at $2 138,29 per month which amounts to $85 531,60. Total $186 157,12,” Gabilo ruled.
“The respondent (ZBH) (is ordered) to pay interest at the prescribed rate from the date of judgment. The respondent (is also ordered ) to sell the claimant the (company) motor vehicle (she had been using) at a price determined by the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED),” Gabilo said.