The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Court Orders UZ to Reinstate Manager

THE Labour Court has ordered the University of Zimbabwe to reinstate an HIV and Aids research programmes manager who had been dismissed for impregnating a potential study participant. Tserayi Machinda worked for the UZ UCSF Collaborative Research Programme, which conducts research programmes in connection with HIV and Aids.

One such programme was conducted in the Mutoko area.

Machinda had a relationship with one of the potential study participants Ruvarashe Hwanyanya.

Thereafter, Hwanyanya fell pregnant and had a child and Machinda denied paternity.

This prompted Hwanyanya to approach the UZ with a complaint.

The university then disciplined Machinda for having an inappropriate relationship with a potential client, thereby bringing the name of the institution into disrepute.

Machinda, while admitting knowledge of Hwanyanya, continued to deny responsibility of the child.

He was dismissed from employment and took the matter for conciliation.

The parties failed to resolve the matter and it was referred for arbitration to determine whether or not Machinda had been unfairly dismissed.

After analysing the facts, the arbitrator said Machinda was unfairly dismissed.

He consequently ordered Machinda's reinstatement or payment of appropriate damages for loss of employment.

The arbitrator also ordered Machinda's transfer to another station by UZ.

Aggrieved by that determination, the UZ lodged an appeal with the Labour Court.

It argued that the arbitrator erred when he found that the charge preferred against Machinda was not work-related but that of a social nature concerning two adults.

It further argued that the arbitrator misdirected himself when he proceeded on the basis that Machinda's dismissal had been prompted by breakdown of his relationship with Hwanyanya.

Labour Court president Ms Euna Makamure noted that the arbitrator made a finding that Machinda's conduct was careless, but not work-related.

Said Ms Makamure: "The arbitrator also found that the Civil Court had declined to award Hwanyanya maintenance as there was no proof that Machinda was father to her child.

"The arbitrator also found that Hwanyanya was a potential client. It was a factual finding Hwanyanya did not fall within the terms of the contract, which bound them together."

The university argued that the fact that Machinda pursued Hwanyanya would create an impression that potential participants would be pursued for sexual favours.

However, Ms Makamure was adamant that the arbitrator made factual findings that the said conduct was not work-related.

Accordingly, she dismissed the appeal by UZ with costs.

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