Former Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ)’s acting general manager Richard Chingodza has successfully challenged a disciplinary hearing which led to his dismissal over misconduct charges in August 2016.
BY CHARLES LAITON
High Court judge, Justice Mary-Zimba Dube recently ruled in Chingodza’s favour and ordered that the disciplinary committee that recommended his dismissal on August 25, 2018, was not properly constituted, hence, unconstitutional.
The court heard that the committee was made up of Chingodza’s subordinates.
Chingodza said on July 13, 2016, he was formally charged and advised that he was to be arraigned before a disciplinary hearing on July 18 of the same year.
He said at the time of the disciplinary hearing, MMCZ did not have substantive board of directors and only had then Mines secretary Francis Gudyanga as the acting chairperson and solo board member.
Gudyanga then set up the committee to preside over both the disciplinary and appeal hearings.
Chingodza said as such he had petitioned the court, claiming violation of his constitutional right to a fair trial given the unique circumstances in which the disciplinary hearing was conducted.
In her determination, Justice Dube said: “The appointment of subordinates to sit in a disciplinary committee against their general manager infringed the applicant’s (Chingodza) right to a fair hearing. The disciplinary hearing can never be characterised as a fair hearing. This scenario is constitutionally untenable. A travesty of justice occurred in these proceedings. A hearing that is conducted in a manner where bias can reasonably be inferred cannot be allowed to stand.”
She added: “The disciplinary hearing and the eventual appeal are tainted by reason of the fact that they are born out of an improperly constituted disciplinary hearing and an impartial adjudication. The applicant’s right to a fair trial was violated.
“A disciplinary hearing conducted by one’s subordinates where the complainant in the disciplinary hearing appoints the adjudicators, prefers the charge, is a witness in the matter, appoints the prosecutor and also appoints the adjudicators in the appeal does not yield a fair trial.”