ZRA set to lose in labour dispute

HARARE - An acrimonious labour dispute between quasi state institution, the Zambezi River Authority and an aggrieved former employee could result in the water entity losing almost a million dollars, the Daily News has heard.

The employee, Rufaro Lovemore Nyabako, who worked at the water authority as a computer engineer, was unlawfully dismissed in March after serving for almost two decades.

Nyabako had worked for the Zambezi River Authority since 1993 at its head office in Lusaka, Zambia
Now Nyabako, through his attorneys Matsikidze and Mucheche Legal Practitioners, is demanding a net payment of $841 506 23 in damages in lieu of reinstatement. The figure includes benefits.

According to court documents in Daily News’ possession, this comes after the authority conceded in the arbitration held on November 23 that Nyabako had indeed been unlawfully dismissed.

The arbitration was held by an independent arbitrator identified as Mugumisi who gave Nyabako an interim award that he be regarded as never having been dismissed.

Nyabako’s lawyers had argued that where an employee is dismissed unlawfully, the principal remedy for him or her is reinstatement or imposition of punitive measures where reinstatement is no longer tenable as provided for in section 89 (2) (c) (iii) of the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01].

They said the authority had taken a conscious risk of summarily dismissing Nyabako and must pay for its decision.

The lawyers further argued it would take Nyabako at least 20 years to get alternative employment given his advanced age of 55, therefore damages for at least 20 years salary would be fair.

“The penalty must be very high to send a clear message to the respondent (Zambezi River Authority) that it is not above the law and typical cowboy behaviour cannot be condoned,” they argued.

The interim order confirmed Nyabako’s status as an employee of the water entity from the date of the unlawful dismissal and opened doors for parties to engage on the subject of quantification of damages. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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