MACRO-economic Planning minister Obert Mpofu has filed a notice of appeal against a Labour Court arbitral award to 55 staffers at his now-defunct The Zimbabwe Mail newspaper.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Arbitrator Zakeyo Mutimutema in November last year ruled that Mpofu had violated employment agreements with more than 20 journalists and other support staff. Mutimutema ruled that the workers remained in Mpofu’s employ “until such time their contracts are terminated legally”.
But last week Mpofu gave notice to appeal the award, arguing Mutimutema had no jurisdiction to hear the matter despite that the former Mines minister unsuccessfully sought to have the case deferred a number of times claiming his legal team was not yet ready.
“Be please, to take notice that the appellant hereby appeals against the whole arbitral award of Honourable Mutimutema dated November 16, 2015, but received by appellant on November 27, 2015.
“The arbitrator grossly erred in hearing the matter when he had no jurisdiction to hear the matter. Arbitrator grossly erred in finding that the claimants (now respondents) were not NEC (National Employment Council)-graded employees,” Mpofu argued.
Mpofu said the arbitrator erred in finding that all the staffers remained his employees and were entitled to salaries.
“The arbitration tribunal had no jurisdiction to deal with this matter and should have refused to hear the matter and, accordingly, may the appeal be upheld and the arbitral award be hereby set aside with costs?” he said.
The journalists claim Mpofu owes them about $250 000 in salary arrears that accrued as his newspaper folded.
The Zimbabwe Mail, headed by one of Mpofu’s daughter, Nomsa, hit the streets as a daily paper towards the end of 2013, but ran into trouble in early 2015.
The paper was transformed into a weekly for a few weeks before it eventually folded, leaving employees stranded.