Zou loses appeal in $600 000 Ndekwere compensation

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The Zimbabwe Open University (Zou) has lost its appeal against an arbitrator’s ruling which compelled it to pay $600 000 compensation to its fired finance director Perpetual Ndekwere.

BY ALOIS VINGA

Ndekwere was fired in 2013 for alleged fraud and referred her matter for arbitration citing unfair dismissal.

In November 2014, an arbitrator identified as Mukonya, who presided over the case, found the institution guilty of unfair dismissal and ruled that she be paid three years’ salary equivalent to her term of office.

The grounds of the ruling were on legitimate expectation since the institution’s council had recommended Ndekwere for a substantial post prior to her dismissal.

Zou, having been aggrieved by the ruling, appealed to the Labour Court.

The grounds of appeal were that the arbitrator erred at law in exploring and making a finding on the nature of the contract entered into and it was not an issue before him.

The institution further argued that the arbitrator erred in making a finding based on the fact that the council had made a recommendation to the Higher Education minister to employ Ndekwere on a permanent basis, arguing that the recommendation was not an approval.

Zou added that it was the employer’s prerogative to choose which appointment to subject to approval and which not.

In response, Ndekwere’s lawyer Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara argued that the grounds of appeal lacked merit and relevance since they were not at points of law.

In passing judgment, Labour Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva explained: “The appellant attacks the arbitrator for holding no proof of a negative decision from the decision maker was furnished and respondent was entitled to legitimately expect that her contract will be renewed.

“Further, the appellant does not elaborate how this finding is grossly unreasonable. As stated above, stating that the decision is grossly unreasonable does not suffice. I, therefore, find that the appeal is improper as it attacks factual findings. As a result, the appeal is dismissed with costs.”