The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has eventually suspended, without pay, a senior staffer, deputy registrar (academic), Ngaatendwe Takawira, who is facing allegations of procuring a small cap for the institution’s Chancellor, President Robert Mugabe.
By Everson Mushava
Takawira has made an urgent chamber application at the High Court challenging her second suspension, after initially being suspended on salary and benefits pending disciplinary proceedings against her in October.
“On November 2, 2015, through my legal practitioners of record, Mawere Sibanda Commercial Lawyers, I received a letter from respondent dated October 29, 2015. In this letter, respondent [UZ], again acting through its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Levy Nyagura, purported to have changed the terms of my suspension, in that as from November 1, 2015, my suspension from employment would now be without pay and full benefits until the matter of my disciplinary process was finalised,” she said in her founding affidavit.
Takawira’s lawyers argued that their client would be deprived of her salary and benefits as from November onwards and hence the urgency of the application.
“I am advised that the above position is in contrast to the position at common law because, as at common law, the employer had the right to suspend an employee from employment, but only on full pay, unless the conditions of service provided for suspension from employment without pay,” Takawira’s lawyer, Tatenda Nhemachena said.
“It is evident that the change in conditions of suspension is actuated solely by malice and no other conditions.”
Nhemachena said the UZ could not run away from its earlier commitments to pay Takwaira her salary and benefits. He said the withdrawal of her salary and benefits was meant to cripple her ability to afford legal services.
Takawira is being charged with contravening section 4(a) of Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006 for procuring the wrong size headgear for Mugabe.
Nhemachena, however, argues that she was not the one who procured Mugabe’s headgear and maintained that the cap Mugabe wore for this year’s graduation ceremony fitted well.
Takawira was suspended early this month facing charges of violating sections of the Labour Act in that she “failed to provide an appropriate cap for the Chancellor’s graduation academic attire”, which resulted in the delay of the 2015 graduation ceremony by 45 minutes.
The suspension letter signed by Nyagura reveals that the delay allegedly caused an “embarrassing situation for the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor” after Takawira provided them with small caps.
Advocate Thabani Mpofu, with instructions from Mawere, Sibanda Legal Practitioners, is representing Takawira.