Source: The Herald – Breaking news.
Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has been ordered to pay a former employee US$47 850 in damages for sacking her when she refused to submit to the sexual demands of her boss.
Ms Rita Mbatha was working for CZI when then chief executive Farai Zizhou made inappropriate comments and sexual advances between 2002 and 2003. When she rebuffed his advances, CZI fired Ms Mbatha.
She successfully sued Zizhou at the High Court five years ago and his house in Harare’s Hatfield suburb was auctioned under a court order to satisfy the damages he had to pay Ms Mbatha.
In December 2021, she was awarded an additional US$180 000 in damages by the same court after she was fired from her employment for complaining about persistent sexual harassment by her boss.
Last week, the CZI unsuccessfully contested the registration of Ms Mbatha’s award following a Supreme Court order of November 2019. Justice Gladys Mhuri ordered CZI to pay Ms Mbatha nearly US$47 850 plus interest at the prescribed rate, finding that she was unfairly sacked for reporting her boss for his improper conduct.
The judge also noted that the Supreme Court order under SC 119/19, made it clear what the CZI had to pay. The High Court under case number HC 4380/20 had ruled in favour of CZI allowing it to pay Ms Mbatha Z$41 161,30 instead of US$41 161,30.
But the Supreme Court under Civil Appeal SC 437/22 made an order in case number SC 119/19, which is still in force and has not been satisfied. Justice Mhuri ruled that CZI could not claim it was paying the balance in local currency.
The judge agreed with Ms Mbatha that if CZI felt the order was not clear, it should have sought clarification from the Supreme Court.
“In the result, it is my finding that the opposition to this application was unmerited,” said Justice Mhuri. “The application for registration of the Supreme Court Order under SC 119/19 is hereby granted. The Supreme Court Order of 25 November 2019 under SC 119/19 is hereby registered as a judgment of this court.
“Respondent (CZI) is hereby ordered to pay the applicant (Mbatha) the sum of US$47 850,01 inclusive of interest calculated at the prescribed rate.”
In his December 21 judgment, Justice Joseph Mafusire noted that no amount of money seemed adequate to compensate for her loss, but that the court should not be seen to be paying lip service to values espoused in the Constitution on human dignity and integrity, hence compensation should be tangible.
Justice Mafusire noted that at the arbitration of the case, Mr Zizhou sought to dismiss his reprehensible conduct as mere jokes.
He said Mr Zizhou was callous and engineered Ms Mbatha’s dismissal from employment. In his ruling, the judge also looked at the power balance and socio-economic dynamics between Ms Mbatha and Mr Zizhou, which he said were skewed given the fact that he was chief executive officer and her boss.
According to messages submitted during the application, Mr Zizhou became exceptionally personal about his feelings and at some point said he was bending rules for her to be awarded a pay rise even though she had just finished probation.
Mr Zizhou settled the damages he had to pay using his house in Hatfield, which was auctioned in terms of the court order.