High Court dismisses Matombo challenge

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by Christopher Mahove

The High Court has dismissed former Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Love more Matombo’s application challenging the outcome of the ZCTU 2011 congress, saying it was unconstitutional.

Matombo and nine other disgruntled unions, who were now calling themselves Concerned Affiliates of the ZCTU, had approached the High Court seeking an interdict barring the George Nkiwane-led executive from accessing ZCTU assets and purporting to be the bona fide leadership of the country’s biggest labour movement.

They claimed the then secretary-general, Wellington Chibebe, had doctored the ZCTU constitution to bar Matombo from contesting after serving two terms as the labour body’s president.

Matombo, who did not attend the congress, withdrew his nomination on the last day despite having participated in the preparations for the congress.
In passing the verdict, Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the court did not find Matombo to be a believable witness.

“Matombo demonstrated an impressive in-depth knowledge of the origins of the ZCTU, its constitutions, both accepted and disputed; and its internal working committees and qualifications of bearers.

“Yet when it came to his responses during cross-examination on the aspect of the constitutional amendments and which constitution was the legitimate ZCTU constitution, the court found Matombo unusually reticent . . . He appeared to develop selective amnesia,” said Justice Chigumba.

The High Court said Matombo, instead of answering questions put to him, appeared shaken and at one point when the questioning became robust, he had pleaded illness and asked for the court’s permission to sit down.

“For a man who had in-depth knowledge of the ZCTU constitution during evidence-in-chief to now appear confused as to the question of whether the ZCTU constitution was amended and if so, to what extent, was disingenuous to put it mildly. It was a blatant and dishonourable attempt to evade the truth. The court was not impressed,” ruled Justice Chigumba.