BY CHARLES LAITON
High Court judge Justice Christopher Dube-Banda has handed a lifeline to over 43 prospective nurses whose 2018 recruitment offer letters for admission to the Harare Central Hospital School of Nursing, had been arbitrarily declared invalid and set aside by Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo.
The students had been asked to reapply.
According to prospective nurses, Moyo had given a directive that all the students who had attended the 2017 interview and passed, were supposed to electronically reapply for the training vacancies because the principal tutor, who had offered them places to attend training, had no authority to sign their offer letters.
However, when the matter was taken before Justice Dube-Banda on February 5, 2020, the judge said the prospective nurses’ constitutional rights had been “violated and trammelled to the core” by Moyo’s directive.
Justice Dube-Banda said it was unlawful for the minister “to arbitrarily as it were, declare the 2017 recruitment process invalid and proceed to set it aside, adding what the minister did “is the function of the court and a court alone”.
“The point I am making is that even if respondents (Harare management board, chief executive and Health minister) were aggrieved by their own process, they had no right to act arbitrarily. They had to apply to court to declare the process invalid and ask that it be set aside. The rule of law demands no less. Therefore, to the extent that respondents acted arbitrarily, the purported setting aside of the recruitment process of the applicants (43 nurses) is unlawful and invalid,” Justice Dube-Banda said.
She also said the alleged principal tutor’s move to issue the students with offer letters “does not give any administrative authority the right to declare its own act unlawful and set it aside”.
“If the respondents are of the view that the recruitment of the applicants was as a result of unlawful conduct, they should have made an application to court to declare the process unlawful and have it set aside. Even faced with this application, respondents did not file a counter application, seeking that the recruitment process of the applicants be declared invalid and be set aside. My humble view is that the conduct of the respondents in purporting to arbitrarily nullify and set aside the recruitment process of the applicants and their offer letters is unlawful and invalid.”
“The first, second and third respondents, each performing its designated statutory obligations and responsibilities are hereby directed to enrol applicants at the Harare Central Hospital School of Nursing for the May 2020 intake.”
The judge also ordered Moyo and his co-defendants to pay costs of suit.