The wrangle between PG Industries and its former marketing director Nkululeko Mabhena has taken a new twist following the company’s refusal to reinstate him as per a High Court ruling issued nearly three months ago.
According to documents shown to NewsDay yesterday, the company now wants him retrenched.
On February 17, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha ordered the firm to reinstate Mabhena to his previous position without loss of benefits following a 12-year legal battle.
Then, Justice Kamocha dismissed
Mabhena’s demand for a $53 million backpay, saying the claim was “too excessive”.
Mabhena’s lawyer Sindiso Mazibisa said he would contest the company’s bid to retrench his client.
Two weeks ago, PG Industries’ group human resources manager Caroline Mupupu wrote to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare requesting for a labour officer to mediate in negotiations for Mabhena’s retrenchment package.
Part of the letter reads: “Please be advised that on 9 May, we made telephonic contact with N Mabhena’s lawyers regarding the proposals (retrenchment).”
“We were informed that the lawyer responsible for this matter was at court, but would return our call upon return, but to no avail.
“We wish to proceed with the retrenchment process and therefore request your good offices to second an officer to us to facilitate.”
But the following day, Mabhena’s lawyer Sindiso Mazibisa wrote back dismissing the firm’s bid to retrench his client.
“We refer to a letter dated 14th of May 2012 from one Caroline Mupupu, the group human resources executive of PG Industries (Zimbabwe) Ltd.
“We are shocked beyond measure and human comprehension about the purported application to your office to try to retrench our client Mabhena,” Mazibisa said.
“We ask two simple questions at this stage: Is your office being asked to ignore or supercede the High Court judgments and pending Supreme Court appeals?
“In light of the above and judgments forwarded to you if you want to entertain the retrenchment – what position does the employee occupy, under what terms, conditions and benefits?
“Respectfully, the matter is improperly before you and PG Industries must negotiate and buy out our client from his proper and agreed contract of employment and not use a backdown approach to subvert justice and court orders.”