The Herald (Harare)

27 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai House, 62 Cars Attached

Photo: MDC-T
Morgan Tsvangirai resting at his home with wife Elizabeth Macheka

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai's Strathaven, Harare, house and 62 party vehicles could be auctioned to pay off US$491 760 in labour damages to 13 party employees who were unlawfully dismissed in 2010.

The employees worked in the security department at the party's Harvest House headquarters.

In addition to the house on stand number 2 Lyndhurst Lane, Strathaven Township, another party house on stand number 16099 Seke Township, Chitungwiza, was listed as part of properties earmarked for attachment.

The Deputy Sheriff is expected to attach 22 Isuzu trucks, eight Nissan trucks and several other vehicles listed on the writ of attachment.

On July 10 this year, High Court Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba registered the arbitral award in favour of the workers and the lawyers used the order to obtain a writ.

A writ of attachment is a court order to attach or seize an asset. It is issued by a court to a law enforcement officer or sheriff.

The writ of attachment is issued in order to satisfy a judgment issued by the court.

A prejudgment writ of attachment may be used to freeze assets of a defendant while legal action is pending.

Common grounds for obtaining a prejudgment writ of attachment are that a defendant has committed fraud or that a defendant is prepared to hide assets from a court.

The 13 security personnel were unfairly dismissed and allegedly went home without any benefits under unclear circumstances.

Arbitrator Mr Duncan Mudzengi ruled that the dismissal of the workers was unfair and that they should be paid damages and other outstanding allowances.

Two of the workers were awarded US$48 260 each, while 11 others got US$38 440 each.

The workers' lawyer, Mr Obert Mawadze of Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners, obtained a writ of execution and the Deputy Sheriff is in the process of attaching the houses and the cars that are in Harare and at the party's various provincial offices.

The awards took into account the position held by each worker and the period of employment in the party.

Some were engaged as far back as 1999 when the party was launched, while others were employed in 2002 and 2005 respectively.

After working for several years at Harvest House, the workers were shocked to be informed of the termination of their contracts in 2010.

Honey and Blackenberg law firm defended the MDC-T while Mr Mawadze represented the 13 security officers.

MDC-T initially promised to reinstate the workers, but the party made a U-turn and failed to honour the undertaking, prompting them to seek quantification.

The 13 were working on renewable contracts and had renewed them up to August 2010 when they received two-week notices of termination of employment.

The workers approached a labour officer in July 2011 where the matter was referred for conciliation.

This failed to settle the case and a dispute was declared, resulting in the arbitrator making a ruling.

Early last year, MDC-T leader Mr Tsvangirai clashed with a former researcher in his office, Mr Douglas Munakira, over unfair labour practices.

Mr Munakira, who was a research officer with the Institute of Democratic Alternative of Zimbabwe, cited the then Prime Minister's Office and Mr Tsvangirai as parties to the labour dispute.

He argued that the PM's office unfairly treated him to an extent that he resigned citing unfair labour practices. He argued that the office owed him US$9 300, a figure that accrued from underpayment of his monthly salary over three years of employment.

He resigned citing ill-treatment, but the parties clashed on the amount due to him.

Mr Munakira wanted US$9 300, while IDAZIM offered him US$2 000, but ended up taking the offer after considering the financial challenges he was facing while out of employment.

The matter had been referred to conciliation, but the parties later opted for an out-of-court settlement.

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InFocus

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai's Home to be Auctioned?

Morgan Tsvangirai resting at his home with wife Elizabeth Macheka

Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's house and party vehicles may be auctioned if he fails to meet labour damages to 13 party employees who were unlawfully dismissed in 2010, ... Read more »