UZ loses $290k to sacked employees

HARARE - The ongoing seven-year battle between the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and its two former employees has finally come to an end, after the Supreme Court ordered that the workers be paid a collective amount of more than $250 000.

The university was ordered to pay Kwanele Muriel Jirira,

$156 852 13 and Louis Masuko, $134 362, after they dragged the learning institution to court for  unlawfully sacking them in 2010.

In a ruling that is set to put the matter to rest, the Supreme Court dismissed the institution’s appeal, claiming it was filed out of time.

The battle has been going on for some time, after the UZ filed an appeal challenging the High Court ruling, two-and-half years later.

The matter, which was initially heard by the Labour Court, took a dramatic turn after the High Court authorised the attachment of the institution’s property worth over  $200 000, to appease the two employees.

The property was only saved from execution by an order granted by Supreme Court Judge Vernanda Ziyambi, stalling property attachment pending the determination of the appeal.

But in the latest development, the appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed for non-compliance with court rules. 

“It is therefore plain that the applicant’s (UZ) appeal was dismissed for want of compliance with the rules.

“Nowhere in its grounds of appeal does the applicant allege that it filed its heads of argument timeously,” the Supreme Court ruled.

Issues arose after Jirira and Masuko, who were employed by UZ as research fellows based at the Institute of Development Studies, were redeployed to the Economics department.

They contested the redeployment, claiming the move was illegal and that they were not qualified to teach in the department.

The pair, which was represented by lawyers from Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners, took the matter to court for arbitration, before getting a judgment in their favour.

“The applicant did not, however, reinstate the respondents (Jirira and Masuko) as ordered by both the arbitrator and the Labour Court.

“As the result, the respondents approached the arbitrator for quantification of damages in lieu of reinstatement.

“The arbitrator assessed damages in amounts of $156 852 and $134 362 respectively,” the Supreme Court further said.

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