20 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Council Building Goes Under the Hammer

The High Court has given green light to a retrenched Rufaro Marketing Private Limited bar manager to auction Harare City Council's building that housed the now defunct liquor firm to recover his outstanding salaries and benefits.

Mr Richard Chitambo, who was employed as a bar manager, won his labour case and was awarded damages to the tune of $21 000.

Harare City Council, which was a major shareholder in the company, unsuccessfully resisted execution on the basis that the building belonged to the local authority and not Rufaro Marketing, which was liquidated years back.

High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore last week declared that the property that is situated along Remembrance Drive in Mbare could safely be auctioned to recover the debt.

If the building is sold, the balance may be used to pay outstanding salaries and benefits to several other retrenchees, who are also in possession of writs of execution against the liquor firm. Harare lawyer Mr Joel Mambara of J Mambara and Partners confirmed that several other retrenched Rufaro Marketing bar workers were owed in excess of $300 000.

Ruled Justice Mushore; "The claimant's claim to immovable property known as certain piece of land situated in the district of Salisbury, being Stand Number 414 Midlands Township 5 of Uplands of subdivision A of Waterfalls, measuring 4 916 square feet held under Deed of Transfer 7485/87 placed under attachment in execution of judgement HC479/14 is hereby dismissed.

"The above mentioned immovable property as set out in the notice of attachment of movable and immovable property dated 18th August 2014 issued by applicant is declared executable."

Justice Mushore ordered City of Harare to pay costs of the suit.

Mr Chitambo, apart from being a bar manager, was also an executive member of Rufaro Marketing Workers' Union responsible for legal affairs.

The liquor firm went for months without paying salaries to its workers and an arbitral award was issued compelling it to pay the workers a total of $346 687.

The company failed to pay the debt until 2012 when the workers successfully applied for registration of the award at the High Court.

The attachment of the property dragged until flyers were sent to all workers to gather at the company's headquarters to push the Deputy Sheriff to execute the order.

When the company learnt of the flyers, it charged Mr Chitambo for acting inconsistent with his contract of employment.

He was also charged with fraud or theft for which he was convicted and dismissed. An arbitrator ordered his reinstatement after finding the dismissal to be unfair.

Failure to reinstate him, the company was ordered to pay him damages and benefits to the tune of $21 000.

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