Zimbabwe: Ex-Worker Gets U.S$177 000

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4 August 2021

CFI Holdings will have to fork out more than US$177 000 to compensate its former personnel manager who was improperly fired almost two decades ago, after the High Court granted an application for registration of the arbitration award.

Mr Andrew Machaya's employment contract was improperly terminated in 2003, sparking a bruising labour dispute spanning 18 years.

He sued CFI trading as Farm and City and lost the case in the Labour Court, but won the case on appeal at the Supreme Court in 2012. That court ruled that Mr Machaya was improperly suspended and subsequently fired finding that the allegations of misconduct against Mr Machaya were in terms of a code of conduct that was inapplicable. It then nullified Mr Machaya's dismissal and ordered reinstatement. But the company did not want him back so took the alternative option of paying him off. The Labour Court awarded Mr Machaya US$177 408 in compensation last year in September. Mr Machaya then approached the High Court to register the award, so it became an enforceable civil liability for CFI. But CFI opposed the registration of the award on the basis that it intended to appeal against the Labour Court's judgment for calculating the compensation in United State dollars.

It also argued that the award was unenforceable and could not be registered because it was in conflict with the law. The payment was in the United State dollars for a debt that arose prior to 2019, argued CFI, adding that at the time of the judgment, the law changed and now deemed such obligation to be at parity with the local dollar. But Justice Slyvia Chirawu-Mugomba found the arguments presented by the CFI untenable to block the registration of the award.

She ruled that the appeal could not suspend the decision appealed against, hence neither could it block the registration. The judge also dismissed the CFI contention that registration of the award would infringe the public policy.

But Justice Chirawu-Mugomba said the issue of currency was one that is a question of law that can only be dealt with by the Supreme Court in terms of the Labour Court Act so while the award is now registered, the currency that Mr Machaya is to be paid out in foreign currency could be determined by the Supreme Court if CFI follows that route.

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