By Fidelis Munyoro
Three Mutare City Council executives who were recently acquitted of gross incompetence will remain at home while receiving hefty salaries and full benefits. Council refused to reinstate treasurer Mr Lloyd Musasa, human resources manager Mr Aaron Chemvura and acting chamber secretary Ms Gladys Muneta following their acquittal of gross incompetence after a disciplinary hearing.
It wants to terminate their contracts, but the amended labour law is making it difficult for council to fire the three. The move by council to continue wasting ratepayers’ money on unproductive workers is likely to rile residents who are reeling under poor service delivery from the local authority.
Council lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku has since written to the trio’s lawyers J Mambara and Partners advising them on council’s position. Prof Madhuku said the three would remain on the council payroll without reporting to work, while council considers the next course of action.
He said the ruling of the disciplinary authority was noted and council’s next course of action was still under consideration in terms of the mandatory steps required by law in respect of any decisions by a local authority in such matters.
“Until further communication from the employer, the status quo will persist, that is your clients will continue to receive their full pay without being required to render any services to the employer,” read the letter dated March 15.
Prof Madhuku said council was acting in accordance with law in not requiring the trio to render services while it was going through the mandatory steps.
But Mr Joel Mambara replied that there were no mandatory steps for council to take except to recall his clients to work.
“If our reading of your letter is correct, our clients’ suspension has been lifted. What is left is that they are not required to report for duty only until advised to do so. In the face of the results of the disciplinary hearing, this is unhealthy and undesirable, and worse, an unnecessary expense for the ratepayers,” he said.
Mr Mambara said he would forward the correspondence between the party’s lawyers to the Local Government board for consideration.
The council, said Mr Mambara, was enjoined to simply act according to the dictates of the law.
“It ordered a disciplinary hearing presided by a disciplinary authority of its choice and a prosecutor, again of its choice. It chose a very experienced prosecutor in the circumstances and it cannot therefore not be heard crying foul.”
Musasa, Chemvura and Muneta were suspended last year on allegations of abuse of funds.
Mutare lawyer Chris Ndlovu presided over the disciplinary hearing case and ruled that the local authority had failed to prove its charges against the three beyond reasonable doubt.
The local authority then engaged Prof Madhuku who prosecuted in the case for advice.
He gave councillors five options and following a special council meeting, the MDC-T-led local authority opted to fire the trio on three months’ notice.