Reprieve for Masvingo City

Masvingo correspondent
The Constitutional Court has referred back to the Labour Court’s Masvingo City Council’s $3,5 million dispute after the local authority was granted a right to be heard.

Council lawyer Patience Chirongoma of Chihambakwe Legal Practitioners said the three year-old matter would be heard at the Labour Court after a series of default judgments were made against council.

The dispute saw about 100 vehicles and other movable property being attached by the Deputy Sheriff following the registering of the $3,5 million arbitration award at the High Court by the workers.

“The matter for our client, Masvingo City Council, where workers have won a default judgment and were awarded $3,5 million in outstanding salaries has been referred back to the Labour Court.

“We applied to the Constitutional Court seeking an opportunity to be heard and it was granted,” said Chirongoma.

She said the new development means the auctioning of attached property was stalled indefinitely until the matter was heard before the Labour Court.

She said the workers had been winning the case through default judgments as the plaintiff either did not attend court or showed up for hearings late.

“The verdict appears as if council does not have the grounds to defend themselves yet the truth is they have not been given the chance to be heard. This is why we went to the Constitutional Court for our client’s side of the story to be also heard,” she said.

Council and its workers are locked in a dispute over outstanding salary increments backdated to 2009 when management was accused of awarding themselves hefty salary adjustments while leaving junior staff out.

Town clerk Adolf Gusha confirmed the development and said the matter had been handled unfairly and that the ruling presented them with a chance to be heard.

“We are happy that the matter has been referred back to where it started. Our lawyers have already prepared submissions on our behalf and at last we have a reprieve,” said Gusha.

He said default judgments are never fair as the court sometimes did not consider the reasons for not attending court. He said they had to abide by the court order to let council vehicles attached.

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