HIGH Court judge Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo yesterday dashed the hopes of compensation to employees retrenched after the landmark Zuva Supreme Court judgment in 2015, when she ruled that the law that required retrospective payments was unconstitutional.
BY STAFF REPORTER
The judge made the ruling in favour of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), the publishers of NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, which dismissed 75 employees post the Zuva judgment and argued that the payment of compensation to the workers as envisaged by the amendment to the labour law was unconstitutional.
“Section 18 of the Labour Amendment Act No. 5 of 2015 is inconsistent with Sections 56(1), 65(1), 71(2) and (3) and 86 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and is, therefore, invalid and it is ordered that Section 18 of the Labour Amendment Act No. 5 of 2015 shall be hereby struck out of the Labour Act Chapter 28:01,” Justice Matanda-Moyo ruled.
The decision only affects employees retrenched on notice between July 17, 2015 and the enactment of Labour Amendment Act No. 5 of 2015 signed into law by President Robert Mugabe in August 2015.
The decision now waits confirmation by the full bench of the Constitutional Court.
AMH legal representative Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara said they were delighted by the victory.
“We are happy for the decision that brings clarity and certainty to law. We had argued in our papers that the practice of retrospective action would create uncertainty in that employers and others would take what are patently lawful actions only to be told through legislation after the event that otherwise non-existent monetary consequences have now been created.
“Not only is this impractical, but it would also burden employers and others with unplanned and unbudgeted-for expenses,” Zhuwarara said.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Priscah Mupfumira and the Attorney-General of Zimbabwe Prince Machaya were cited as respondents.
The respondents argued: “The applicant (AMH) has no case since there is nothing wrong about a statute operating retrospectively as long as it expressly states that it shall operate retrospectively.”