THE Midlands State University (MSU) has appealed a Gweru Labour Court order to either reinstate or pay damages to four security guards whose contracts were terminated on allegations of misappropriation of funds and insubordination.
BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
Doubt Chibi and three others had been fired for allegedly misappropriating the MSU Campus Police Association funds amounting to $8 552, but they challenged the decision through their lawyer Nomore Hlabano.
The four were also charged with contravening a section of MSU’s code of conduct after they allegedly wrote disrespectful letters to the chief security officer and the acting vice-chancellor.
But in his judgment, Justice Custom Kachambwa ruled that the theft charges were based on results of an illegal audit.
On the charge of insubordination, the judge noted that workers had a right to express their views about conditions of work through the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under section 61 of the Constitution.
Justice Kachambwa said it was lawful for an employee to write a letter to their superior expressing opinions as long as they did not incite violence or advocate for malicious injury to the dignity or reputation of the superior.
But in letters to the security guards’ lawyers, MSU indicated it would appeal against the decision to reinstate the employees.
“Our letter of the 24th July 2018 makes it abundantly clear that the university is aggrieved by the ruling of the Labour Court and hence it has instructed its external legal counsel to seek leave of the Labour Court to appeal against the ruling,” MSU acting deputy registrar for human resources, A Munhande said in one of the letters to the lawyers.
MSU said it would not enter into negotiation of the quantification of damages as doing so would mean accepting the Labour Court judgment.
The higher learning institution said the dismissal remained intact until the Supreme or Labour Court determined otherwise.
“Your clients should therefore not turn up for work at MSU or at their former work stations as it is MSU’s position that reinstatement is out of the question. In terms of the court order MSU has no obligation to reinstate your clients.”
MSU said it would not enter into any future correspondence with the lawyers until the matter was finalised in the courts of law.