Zimbabwe: Former Zesa Employee Drags Ziyambi to Court

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi (file photo).
21 September 2021

A FORMER ZESA employee has dragged Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to court after he was blocked from filing a US$550 000 lawsuit against the power utility.

Ken Francis Manyellah intended to sue ZESA after he sustained back injuries which left him disabled and jobless.

He however failed to following the enactment of Statutory Instrument (SI) 106/2021, which requires complainant's to pay one percent of the money they claim from defendants in filing lawsuits.

Because of the SI he was told to pay $46 982 which he does not have.

It is his complaint that the SI is unconstitutional as it blocks the poor from filing lawsuits.

Also cited as respondent is High Court registrar.

Manyellah is seeking a declaratory that the SI is in violation of the Constitution.

He told the High Court that he has been sick since the accident he encountered while at ZESA subsidiary, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).

All his savings, according to the summons have been exhausted.

Manyellah was employed as a plant operator from August 2000 to September 8, 2015 when his employment contract was terminated on medical grounds.

He had suffered back injuries while pulling a trolley at Harare Power Station.

Court papers show he underwent physiotherapy, but his condition deteriorated as he continued with his duties.

Some tests were then carried out and revealed that one of his spinal discs had shifted out of position as a result of "hazardous working conditions he was exposed to by his former employer."

He eventually underwent a surgical operation in March 2015 trying to correct the situation but there was no improvement.

The condition prompted the ZESA medical board to make a recommendation in August 2015, that he could not continue with his employment duties and had to be retired.

After retirement he was paid his normal terminal benefits and was compensated by NSSA at a rate of 12 percent disability.

Following retirement, his condition worsened to the extent that he could not perform his conjugal rights well.

This prompted him to seek further compensation from his former employer and wrote a letter of demand.

Manyellah then attempted to file summons demanding US$550 000 but the High Court registrar told him that the government had gazetted Statutory Instrument 106/2021 in which he was required to pay 0, 001 unit of the claimed amount.

The money was calculated to be $46 982.

"I rightfully aver that the filing fee demanded by the court for the summons in casu is tantamount to me being denied the right to access justice considering circumstances surrounding my case which pictures correctly my inability to pay such fee before claiming for damages against the respondent. It would now appear that justice is being reserved for the rich," he complained.

"What I find equally strange is the need to pay such a fee at the filing stage. I believe the Justice minister should reconsider his decision to levy this filing fee at this stage and only levy it after one has been successful."

He argues that Section 69 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides everyone with the right access to the courts.

"I aver that the imposition of prohibitive figures I am being asked to pay by the Registrar is a violation of my rights to access court and also that I'm being discriminated against on the basis of my poor status. I submit that the provision of section 2 of SI 106/21 blatantly runs parallel to the constitutional provisions stated herein as it sets an economic discriminatory bar as the filing fee is way beyond my reach. This therefore shows that justice is now only awarded to the elite on a silver platter and quite uncouth towards the livelihood of individuals who are economically incapacitated," he said.

The matter is yet to be heard.

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