BY CHARLES LAITON
The Supreme Court has given the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) a 30-day ultimatum to pay US$40 800 compensation plus costs to Rita Marque Mbatha, who was unceremoniously dismissed from employment after refusing to succumb to her former chief executive officer Farai Bwatikona Zizhou’s sexual advances.
Mbatha, who is now the director for Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation and a board member of the International Alliance of Women presented evidence in court, saying she endured sexual harassment by Zizhou, who later fired her from employment in June 2013, over a petty offence.
After being dismissed from employment, Mbatha reported CZI and Zizhou to the Labour Court, but lost the case, prompting her to appeal to the Supreme Court which then ruled in her favour on June 16, 2017.
When the apex court made a determination, it ordered CZI to pay compensation, but the amount was not quantified until November 25, 2019 when judges of appeal, Justices Ben Hlatshwayo, Tendai Uchena and Lavender Makoni unanimously agreed and issued an order in terms of the parties’ consent agreement.
“Whereupon after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered by consent that: The appeal be and is hereby allowed with no order as to costs. The judgment of the Labour Court … be and is hereby set aside and substituted with the following, (1) the application for quantification of damages partially succeeds and accordingly the respondent (CZI) shall pay to the applicant (Rita Marque Mbatha) the following within 30 days of this order. (a) Damages for unfair dismissal at the salary rate of $1 157 037 from June 1, 2003 to May 31, 2005 = US$36 600. (b) Cash in lieu of notice = US$4 200, (c) cash in lieu of leave days = US$361, 30. (d) Interest on the total sum in a to c at the prescribed rate from the date of the court order to the date of payment in full,” the judges ruled.
The court, however, dismissed Mbatha’s claim for punitive damages. Mbatha has since filed another $500 000 lawsuit against CZI and Zizhou, saying the latter’s actions severely impacted on her marriage and her personal health.
The matter is pending.