THE Labour Court in Harare has dismissed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) appeal against immediate payment of $9,3 million to 472 of its former employees who lost their jobs in a retrenchment exercise carried out by the bank in 2011.
Report by Philip Chidavaenzi
The ex-RBZ employees sought recourse after their former employer failed to settle the balance of their severance packages almost three years after the retrenchment exercise.
In their judgment, Labour Court presidents Godfrey Musariri, Betty Chidziva and Lillian Hove ruled that the RBZ appeal lacked merit.
“All in all we consider that the appeal lacks merit.
“It, therefore, fails on that account. Wherefore, it is ordered that the appeal is dismissed and each party shall bear its own costs,” reads the ruling in part.
The retrenchees were represented by Benjamin Magogo, while Cathew Manyani stood in for the central bank.
In his final submissions, Manyani told the court that RBZ would need 18 months after judgment had been passed to pay out the balances it owed its former employees.
He also argued during the hearing that the arbitrator had erred and misdirected himself at law in making an award that was contradictory in itself by ordering the immediate payment of the amount claimed, while at the same time ordering negotiations by the parties to resolve the same issue.
The court, however, noted that although the arbitration order seemed contradictory, the negotiation referred to by the arbitrator was not an alternative to payment.
“The sequencing of the award created a false impression that negotiation was ordered as an alternative to payment. However, the actual words used show that was not so. Arbitrators are hereby cautioned to exercise care in formulating their awards,” ruled the court.
The Labour Court further noted that the RBZ’s appeal that it was poorly funded by Treasury, therefore, required time, did not hold water because it was the one that had drafted the payment timelines, which it eventually breached.
The Court said the RBZ was just like any other debtor and, therefore, had an obligation to pay up regardless of its financial position.