High Court Judge Justice Chinamora has ruled that suspended NetOne CEO, Mr Lazarus Muchenje Must be reinstated rendering his termination of employment null and void, with costs.
Muchenje was illegally fired last year, before getting a high court reprieve.
In a momentous and landmark judgement the High Court stated that the termination of a CEO of a State Owned Enterprise (SOE) should be done in accordance with the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act, and not in terms of the Labor Act.
The ruling puts to ice the current jostling for the post which was already ongoing, with some applicants already complaining that they have not yet received their feed back or acknowledgement of application, 14 days after the pronounced deadline, crying foul over lack of transparency in the process.
In his ruling Justice Chinamhora said he had come to the conclusion that there is no inconsistency between the labour Act and the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act within the contemplation of section 2A (3) of the Labour Act, and that the provisions of section 12(4) should not have been utilised to bring an end to the applicant’s employment.
“The letter of 9 July 2020 drafted by the 2nd respondent written or and on behalf of the 6th respondent addressed to the applicant be and is hereby declared null and void.
“The 1st to 4th and 6th respondents shall pay costs of this application, the one paying the others to be absolved” ruled Justice Chinamhora.
He further stated that the legislature saw it fit that good governace in public entities be enhanced by enacting a special purpose statute focussing on those institutions.
“Consequently the Public Entities Corporate Gorvenace Act was enacted to regulate how CEOs of public entities are employed or removed from employment. It is apparent from section 197 of the Constitution that through this legislation, parliament intended to guarantee tenure of office of people appointed as Ceo’s of State controlled entities,”he said.
Muchenje was represented by Innocent Chingarande of Titan Law and Advocate Taona Nyamakura.
Muchenje was suspended on 21 February 2020, challenged the suspension in the High Court, and was granted an interim order against NetOne.
NetOne then withdrew all the charges against Muchenje on July 8 2020, and reinstated him back to work with all benefits. A day later on 9 July 2020, NetOne terminated Muchenje’s contract on notice using common law and the Labor Act.
Muchenje approached the High Court and was granted an interim order against NetOne.
On 21 December 2020, NetOne once again reinstated Muchenje and immediately issued him with a termination letter using termination on notice based on common law and the Labor act again, they also stated that the president had ascended to him being fired as CEO.
He challenged this latest dismissal, a matter which was then referred to the labour court
Meanwhile NetOne is a shadow of its former glory under Muchenje, with bad network quality, no sim cards, no airtime, no recharge cards, no One Money debit cards and data that is always not working. The Courts have spoken and Netone must deliver once again.
NetOne board will likely appeal and block Muchenje again and the task at hand for Muchenje to stir it back to its hey days will not be easy.