‘Honeymoon’ delays filing of Foreign Affairs Minister’s appeal

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FOREIGN Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has once again approached the Supreme Court seeking extension of the time within which to appeal against a High Court decision which was entered in favour of a former United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) employee, Michael Jenrich, to garnish the organisation’s bank account in the sum of $623 400.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Acting Director in the Legal Department of Foreign Affairs Ministry, Sibusisiwe Melody Mutendi, who deposed to an affidavit on behalf of the minister, said Mumbengegwi’s delay was caused by his legal practitioner who had gone out of the country on a honeymoon.

“Applicant’s legal practitioner prepared a draft copy of this application and left it with his superiors to examine while he proceeded on leave during the festive season. He went to get married to his present wife, hold a wedding and proceed on honeymoon,” she said.

Simbarashe Mumbengegwi Simbarashe Mumbengegwi

“The legal practitioner has since returned and this explains why this application is being filed as of the date indicated above. Applicant respectfully submits that there has been no inordinate delay, especially considering that the superior courts were on recess from December, 2015 to January10, 2016.

“I consequently wish to submit that the reasons for the delay in filing this application are reasonable, and on that basis I request that this honourable court may be pleased to grant Applicant the indulgence of condonation in delaying to file a proper notice of appeal in the time period allowed by the rules of court.”

Jenrich successfully sued FAO in the Labour Court over his benefits and was eventually granted a garnishee order against FAO’s Standard Chartered Bank account to recover his dues.

However, Mumbengegwi was not impressed with the move and he approached the Supreme Court last November in a desperate bid to save FAO’s account from being garnished, but the matter was struck off the roll on the basis that his notice of appeal was defective.

The three judges who deliberated on the matter said since they were being requested to reconsider one of their earlier decisions, it was appropriate that a panel of five judges be appointed to adjudicate on the matter.

And following their ruling, Mumbengegwi was then supposed to file another appeal timeously, but failed to do so leading to the current application.

Last year, Mumbengegwi, through his lawyer, Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya, filed an appeal challenging former High Court judge Justice Tendai Uchena’s judgment entered in Jenrich’s favour.

In his judgment delivered in March last year, Justice Uchena held that international organisations, such as FAO, would not escape litigation in labour matters because they only enjoyed “restrictive, (as opposed to absolute) immunity that does not apply to cases of a labour nature and does not cover immunity from suit and legal process and execution”.

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