BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
THE High Court yesterday dismissed an application filed by two former PetroTrade executives who were challenging the termination of their employment contracts.
High Court judge Justice Owen Tagu dismissed the application by Cougan Matanhire (former chief operating officer) and Nomsa Chitsaka (former business development director) saying they were supposed to seek recourse at the Labour Court.
“This is purely a labour issue which should have been brought before the Labour Court,” Justice Tagu ruled.
“Clearly this court has no jurisdiction to deal with labour issues despite that they are also seeking a declaratur. I, therefore, agree with the counsel for the respondent that the applicants approached the wrong court. The cause of action as is apparent from the founding affidavits of the applicants is labour-
Justice Tagu added: “From the cases cited above it is trite that although this honourable court has original jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters, it does not have jurisdiction on labour matters even if what is being sought is declaratory relief. I, therefore, decline to exercise my jurisdiction in this matter.”
The former PetroTrade bosses wanted their dismissal to be declared null and void.
According to court papers, on July 4, 2021, PetroTrade, through a public advertisement, invited persons to apply for the position of chief executive officer.
“We underwent a final interview on October 19, 2021 and November 2, 2021. In the latter interview, the board chairman advised us that his board had decided on the persons to be recommended to PetroTrade’s parent ministry, Energy and Power Development in line with the requirements of the Act,” they submitted.
“We were advised by the chairman that this process would take some time as it required security vetting and clearance.
“We were informed that in light thereof and pending such vetting we would be offered the position of chief operations officer to ensure the immediate implementation of the company’s turnaround strategy.”