Daily News founding Editor-in-Chief, Geoffrey Nyarota, has won the case in which he was suing Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the newspaper’s publishers, for unlawful termination of his employment contract in May 2010.
The veteran journalist approached the court in February this year against ANZ, demanding $364 000 in backpay and damages.
Nyarota, who had been living in the United States since 2003, was allegedly brought back to Harare by ANZ in February 2010 with a brief to spearhead the re-launch of the Daily News in both editorial and management capacities, once the newspaper was licensed by the Zimbabwe Media Commission.
The newspaper was licensed on May 26, along with NewsDay and other newspapers. The following day, ANZ summarily terminated Nyarota’s employment.
However, Nyarota challenged ANZ’s decision against him at the Labour Tribunal. In his ruling, the arbitrator John Mawire said contrary to ANZ’s claims, the parties had entered into a one-year contract of employment, but the contract was unlawfully terminated.
He further stated that ANZ had denied Nyarota an opportunity to defend himself against any allegations before terminating his employment, which was against the country’s labour laws.
The arbitrator ruled: “. . . within seven working days of receipt of this award by the parties, the claimant (Nyarota) shall file detailed submissions on its compensation claim commensurate with this award and the respondent (ANZ) shall, within seven working days of receipt of the claimant’s submissions, file a detailed defence.
“The claimant may, within three working days of respondent’s submission, if it so wishes, file a reply to respondent’s submissions. Thereafter, the tribunal shall issue its final award subject to any further directive it may issue regarding the filing of submissions by the parties. The respondent shall pay the claimant’s costs on the ordinary scale.”
The arbitrator said ANZ agreed to relocate Nyarota from Boston to Botswana, and eventually to Harare “to tell it like it is from here” adding “the company was convinced that Nyarota would win back its clients and revive the Daily News to dizzy heights”.
“The respondent (ANZ) could indeed not be faulted for thinking so, as before he left the Daily News in 2003, the claimant (Nyarota) had undoubtedly imprinted an indelible mark on the domestic and international media terrain,” read part of the judgment.
The arbitrator said in analysing submissions from both parties, “the claimant (Nyarota) did not strike the tribunal as someone who was dishonest and unreliable”.