14 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Zacc, Workers Row Drags On

The dispute pitting the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and its 26 investigators and intelligence officers over employment contracts and non-payment of allowances amounting to US$1,5 million is far from over.

The anti-graft body, whose appeal was recently struck off the roll at the Supreme Court, has launched a second bid to have its matter heard at the superior court.

ZACC has approached the Labour Court seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the granting of an arbitral award in favour of the workers, which has since been registered at the High Court.

The commission is also challenging the writ of execution, which the workers obtained at the High Court, to attach the property to recover money owed to them.

On the other hand, workers have launched an application at the High Court seeking to go ahead and attach the property pending the appeal by the ZACC.

Mr Joel Mambara, who is acting for the workers, yesterday said: "They (ZACC) have filed an application for leave to appeal at the Labour Court against the arbitral award and appealed at the High Court against the registration of arbitral award by Justice Happias Zhou.

"In our case, we have applied for leave to execute pending appeal. We are now waiting for the set down of the matter while they also wait for the set down of their matter at the Labour Court."

Last year the commission unsuccessfully appealed against the arbitral award in favour of the workers. Labour Court president Mrs Lilian Kudya ruled that ZACC was in contempt of court after it failed to comply with the order to pay the 26 workers.

Justice Zhou then issued a writ of execution allowing seven properties belonging to ZACC to be attached to recover money owed since 2009.

The property included ZACC's head office in Mount Pleasant; stand number 386 Quinnington, Borrowdale, measuring 4 000 square metres; a stand in Glen Lorne measuring 5 373 square metres; a stand in Bluff Hill measuring 4 515 square metres; two stands in Greendale measuring 6 172 and 4 148 square metres; and another stand in Northwood, Harare, measuring 4 047 square metres.

ZACC failed to pay the workers housing, transport, cellphone and risk allowances as well as medical aid since November 2009 to date.

The Labour Court also ruled that the fact that the workers applied for registration of their award at the High Court had no effect on the award which has been appealed against in the court.

In its grounds of appeal, the commission had maintained that it had not applied for a stay of the arbitral award pending appeal because the respondents filed an application with the higher court to register the award in question.

The matter went through the various stages of labour dispute resolution and ended up being heard by an independent arbitrator, Mr Rodgers Matsikidze, who made an arbitration award in January of last year.

The arbitration award was quantified in March 2013. Mr Matsikidze awarded the 26 workers amounts ranging between US$53 000 and US$61 000 each.

ZACC's lawyers, Mutamangira and Associates, argue that their client has excellent prospects of success on the merits and thus leave to appeal must be granted.

The lawyers say the arbitrator erred at law in arrogating to himself and determining issues that were not part of the terms of reference.

"On the whole, the arbitrator grossly erred at law and grossly misdirected himself on the facts by making an arbitration award that is grossly unreasonable in its defiance of logic, common sense and the long established principles of law, the common and statute law applicable to the issues that were before him," the lawyers argue.

"Wherefore it is prayed that leave to appeal be granted and the judgment of the labour court be set aside."

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