THE Labour Court has dismissed an appeal by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) challenging an arbitration order compelling it to pay out almost $500 000 to its five former customs managers who were unlawfully dismissed during a restructuring exercise five years ago.
BY SENIOR COURT REPORTER
Zimra’s fall-out with the managers came about after the former unilaterally altered the employees’ contracts which the latter challenged, prompting their dismissal.
The Zimra saga started in February 2007 when the parastatal engaged in a restructuring exercise which resulted in the five ex-customs officials’ contracts being terminated and reconstituted into three-year contracts.
In her judgment delivered in August this year, Labour Court president Loice Matanda-Moyo said Zimra’s argument in refusing to compensate the sacked managers lacked merit.
“An employer has no right to act in the manner it did. Such variations could only be done with the employees’ consent. It is common cause there was no consent from the employees . . . The arbitrator’s reasoning cannot be said to be grossly unreasonable warranting interference by this court. Accordingly the appeal lacks merit and is hereby dismissed,” Matanda-Moyo said.
In 2010, Zimra was ordered to pay $498 749 to Elisha Tshuma, Sifelani Nhliziyo, Khaulelo Mawana, Austin Wamedza and Petros Shayanewako.
The order was made by an arbitrator Lawrence Gabilo, who said the damages assessed were to be paid in two instalments commencing November 12 and December 12 2010, respectively.
Last year, Gabilo established the quantification of damages instructing Zimra to either reinstate the fired managers or pay them damages in lieu of reinstatement.
Zimra, however, failed to comply with the order and appealed against Gabilo’s award, but the appeal was again dismissed by Labour Court president Betty Chidziva on the basis the parastatal had approached the courts “with dirty hands” after failing to comply with the initial order.
Following Chidziva’s judgment, parties went for quantification of damages, but Zimra reapplied for stay of execution pending another appeal hearing which was eventually dismissed by Matanda-Moyo in August.