CZI to lose property over sexual abuse case Ms Mbatha lost her job in 2003 after raising sexual harassment charges against then CZI chief executive Farai Zizhou. She was Zizhou’s personal assistant.

Fidelis Munyoro-Chief Court Reporter

A HARARE woman fired by Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) two decades ago after raising sexual harassment charges against her boss, now wants the CZI headquarters sold to recover the more than US$47 000 in confirmed damages. 

Ms Mbatha lost her job in 2003 after raising sexual harassment charges against then CZI chief executive Farai Zizhou. She was Zizhou’s personal assistant.

Ms Mbatha won her case at the Labour Court, but CZI succeeded in getting it reversed, prompting her to appeal to the Supreme Court. 

In June 2017, the Supreme Court granted her appeal and since then, she had been pursuing damages for both loss of job and the sexual harassment that she suffered at the hands of Zizhou.

Early this month, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the CZI against the ruling that it had to pay Ms Mbatha US$47 850 in damages. 

On Monday, Ms Mbatha wrote to the Sheriff of Zimbabwe giving instruction to sell CZI property, Stand 1718 Salisbury Township, measuring 2 632 square metres to satisfy the judgment under case SC 119/19.

“The application for registration of the award in case number HC 3556/23 (judgment number HH 23/241 was granted by the High Court on the January 16, 2024. 

“I have attached all the relevant judgments including the judgment of February 16, 2024 ordering Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries to pay me the sum of US$47 850 inclusive of interest calculated at the prescribed rate.”

Ms Rita Mbatha was working for CZI when 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 because she was fired from her employment for complaining about persistent sexual harassment by her boss.

Last month, 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 $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. 

In his December 2021 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, Zizhou sought to dismiss his reprehensible conduct as mere jokes. But the judge found 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 and her boss.

According to messages submitted during the application, 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.

Zizhou settled the damages he had to pay using his house in Hatfield, which was auctioned in terms of the court order.

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