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#MondayBlues Basic Interpretation Of The Muchenje landmark Ruling

“NetOne is targeting to launch a new online product termed ‘One World Album’ towards the end of May. Award-winning and headliner artist are all lined up for the “OneWorld Album”, a great opportunity to share their new content and express diversity.

The ongoing circus at NetOne is far from ending that it has become an ugly pathetic circus  needing to be stopped in the  interest of saving a public company funded by  tax payers money.

Unfortunately, the powers  that be are entangled in the  battle of the  stomach.

This of-course has been the biggest problem  at NetOne, way before there was even the new ICT  minister Hon Muswere, there were serious problems at NetOne that are not ending.

The same problems that Reward Kangai faced  at NetOne , were faced  by Brian Mutandiro, now Lazarus  Muchenje and even if Muchenje goes, the next  CEO is not safe at NetOne  if we do not deal with the  main problem.

There is nothing special about Muchenje, the battle  must not be about him  but basic corporate governance issues.

Today I will deal with the  matter from a legal perspective, this is basic legal  interpretation of any judgement that any  law student is easily acquainted  with.

The learned High court  judge  made  a land mark ruling that any  sitting CEO for a state  owned company can  not be dismissed through  the notice  of termination route.

High Court  Judge Justice Chinamora 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.

This statement  alone  simply states  that  any CEO for  a state owned company fired after  the  Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act was  enacted,  was illegally  fired.

This ruling is a landmark one and sets a strong judicial precedence over  all matters regarding how to fire a CEO for  state owned  companies.

The case is basic and crystal clear and  no  lower court  can have  judicial jurisdiction  over such a matter, when a  higher court  has  decided.

Whether NetOne  had  withdrawn their termination  or  not prior  to the judgment  is just technical, the fact is that  they still fired their CEO again in an  illegal  manner, and that revokes and  nullifies their letter.

Unfortunately the NetOne  case is  more personal than  technical or legal, it  seems the  cartel behind  Muchenje’s dismissal is so desperate and blinded  by their emotions to a point  that they can’t interpret  this simple ruling.

Instead of fighting in  courts and messing up their names which #MondayBlues  has received and will soon throw to the pigeons, the cartels dealing with  the  NetOne issue must have  learnt by now  that they are not winning the legal battle and must respect the rule of law and drop the mafia style  of administration.

Muchenje must be fired legally, and  must  go if not needed at NetOne  in the interest of the public company to perform well, as he has  no right to  hold  on where he is  no longer  wanted as well, but  it also has  to be clear ,  who exactly no longer wants Muchenje at the public  company.

NetOne  is not like Econet, a private company, and no individual has more interests than  the public that  gets taxed and  fund the  company, to which Zimbabweans have  a stake in NetOne and  no private  citizen  must be allowed to run  it as though it is his or her  own tuckshop.

Mature stakeholders who represent the public company must  have  simply called  for a closed door meeting  with Muchenje, clearly ushered  their direction  and vision and explain why he must go, and  how he will go, and surely Muchenje then must  have  responded to the need and left  the company.

He  himself deserves to move on, fighting for over  a year is not good  for anyone, but matters   needs to be closed amicably and allow the Zimbabwe ICT sector to move  on.

In their response to this judgement  NetOne noted

NetOne Cellular (Private) Limited made several follow ups on the ruling through its legal practitioners. Despite this being an urgent chamber application, by December 2020 the ruling had not been handed down. NetOne having been seriously prejudiced by the delays in the handing down of the judgment then abandoned the termination of the 9th of July 2020 and reinstated L. Muchenje on the 21st of December 2020 after it was granted approval by His Excellency The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe to terminate L. Muchenje’s contract of employment. The reinstatement of the 21st of December 2020 meant that the termination that had been challenged by L. Muchenje before Justice Chinamora had been done away with. After this reinstatement NetOne Cellular (Private) Limited terminated L. Muchenje’s contract of employment. This termination was also challenged by L. Muchenje in the High Court (L. Muchenje vs S. Mutangadura and Others HC 7653/2020). The application was placed before Justice Muremba who declined jurisdiction on the matter and held that the matter was a labour matter which had to be decided by the Labour Court and not the High Court. Justice Muremba noted in her ruling that L Muchenje was seeking reinstatement through the back door.

This therefore means that the ruling that has been handed down by Justice Chinamora is purely academic, because it has been overtaken by events. The termination that was being challenged in the urgent application that was heard by Justice Chinamora on 4 August 2020 was set aside by NetOne leading to the reinstatement of L. Muchenje on the 21st of December 2020. L Muchenje’s contract was subsequently terminated in December 2020 leading to the ruling by Justice Muremba. This means that there is no judgment that has been issued by the High Court nor the Labour Court setting aside the December 2020 termination of L. Muchenje’s contract of employment following the approval of the termination by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe E.D. Mnangagwa. L Muchenje’s contract of employment remains terminated.

From  a layman  point of view, this is  just going  in circles,  avoiding the  fact that  one can not  simply fire a CEO of a state  owned  company  using the  labour court or  notice  of termination  of contract.

Judicial  precedence  has been set for that matter  and  all others  pending, Zimbabwe  needs  men and women  who  are serious about  moving  our economy not  these  hide and seek games at the expense  of state coffers.

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