Ex-Praz boss loses court case against govt

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Nyasha Chizu

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

FORMER Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) chief executive Nyasha Chizu has lost a High Court challenge against his employer after the authority terminated his employment contract in October 2020.

Chizu, who had replaced the late Charles Kuwaza, was represented by Hogwe Nyengedza Legal Practitioners when he filed his application.

He had sought two reliefs at the High Court, the first being a declarator that the labour laws used in dismissing him from his post were inconsistent with the Constitution and the second setting aside his termination of employment as it was unconstitutional.

Chizu said he was employed by the Public Service ministry in 2012 and worked in different capacities until he was appointed chief executive officer on August 29, 2018.

He further submit that on, or about July 7, 2020, the Public Service ministry sent him on forced leave for 30 days commencing from July 8, 2020.

The forced leave was subsequently extended for a further 30 days on at least two occasions, and he remained on such leave until he was served  with notice of termination on October 23, 2020.

In his application, which was heard by Justice Owen Tagu, Chizu cited Praz, the Public Service ministry and the Attorney-General as the first, second and third respondents, respectively.

In his judgment, Justice Tagu dismissed the application with costs.

“The contention by the first respondent is that the applicant’s present application is based on the allegation that the termination of his contract of employment on notice by the first respondent allegedly amounted to grossly unfair ‘administrative conduct’. The first respondent (Praz) submitted that the termination of the Chizu’s contract of employment on notice did not constitute administrative action, but the exercise of a contractual power. Hence the administrative remedies the applicant seeks to invoke are constitutional and are not available to him,” Justice Tagu’s judgment read.

“In his answering affidavit, the applicant maintained that the conduct of Praz constituted administrative action. It was his contention that the Administrative Justice Act [Chapter 10:28] cannot have the effect of amending the Constitution. In fact it can only give effect to his rights as enshrined in the Constitution rather than take them away”

Justice Tagu ruled that the purported termination of his employment amounted to administrative conduct saying the application could not pass the test of constitutionalism.

“The gist of the applicant is that he was not given the chance to make an address before he was dismissed. If that is so, he should have cited the Administrative Justice Act (Chapter 10:281) that is where this cause of action lies. I, therefore, uphold the first respondent’s first point in limine,” he ruled.

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