NetOne fires sick employee


Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
NetOne has refused to retire a chronic diabetic and hypertensive employee despite several medical practitioners recommending the same, documents seen by The Herald show.
Instead of retiring former Matabeleland regional manager Mr Douglas Mufunda (59), who had a prostate operation, NetOne management suspended him and later “dismissed” him.

Mr Mufunda, who had running battles with NetOne at the Arbitration Tribunal and magistrates’ courts, was acquitted in all the cases and the arbitrator ordered that he be reinstated.

He has now written to ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister Webster Shamu seeking his intervention.

In the letter dated November 7, 2013 to Minister Shamu, Mr Mufunda accused NetOne management of victimising him.

“Cde Sir, I am diabetic, hypertensive and have post-accident injuries. In August 2012, I had a prostate surgery.

“During the same month of August, my doctor advised me to be retired from employment on medical grounds.

“My employer, NetOne, responded by sending me, as a procedure, before a medical board.

“I appeared before the board as had been directed by my employer, a report was made available to the employer immediately,” said Mr Mufunda.

The medical board recommended that he be retired, but NetOne said he must see another doctor of their choice.

“Before implementation of the medical board’s recommendations . . . they still went on to suspend and dismiss me from employment whilst I was sick and hospitalised.

“Since October 2011, I have never rested and the employer is determined to bury me without benefits.

“The employer has taken up the cases on which I was acquitted back for arbitration with the hope that I be found guilty so that I am dismissed without benefits,” said Mr Mufunda.

A medical report by Dr TA Muradzi on August 30, 2012 said Mr Mufunda had chronic hypertension and diabetes, and suffered from severe headaches and periodic lapses in concentration.

“Recently he developed gallstones and an enlarged prostate of which they were operated upon.

“For the sake of his health, I have advised him to retire on medical grounds,” said Dr Muradzi.

After seeing the medical report, NetOne’s acting human resources manager, Ms Paulyn Shonhiwa, said an appointment had been made for Mr Mafunda to see a medical board at West End Clinic.

The medical board, composed of doctors IT Gangaidzo (specialist physician) and MN Chimedza (family practitioner), concluded that Mr Mufunda’s medical condition made it virtually impossible for him to continue in normal employment.

“The employer is advised to retire Mr Mufunda on medical grounds at the earliest practical time,” they concluded on October 9, 2012.

But Ms Shonhiwa instructed Mr Mufunda on October 24, 2012 to undergo another medical examination by a Dr Kambarami.

Dr Kambarami on November 6, 2012 said: “I recommend that he be retired early on medical grounds as he is certainly unable to do a decent day’s work in his condition.

“His health problems will most likely deteriorate with time.”

However, on October 30, 2012 NetOne corporate sales manager, Mr Prosper Muvengwa, wrote to Mr Mufunda saying he had been suspended for misconduct arising from preliminary findings of forensic audit that said he was engaged in corruption.

Bulawayo magistrate Ms Gladmore Mushove acquitted Mr Mufunda of the charges last year.

Another magistrate, Mr Crispen Mberewere, acquitted Mr Mufunda of another charge of allegedly writing off a debt without his superior’s knowledge.

NetOne managing director Mr Reward Kangai told The Herald of Mr Mafunda: “That guy has an issue going back to 2010 and he was properly dismissed through a disciplinary process. The matter is before arbitration.

“He was overcharging customers and a forensic audit found that he had misappropriated a lot of money.

“We were acting in the public interest because they were complaining so we could not keep it under the carpet.

“There is no question of him being victimised.

“I had nothing against the individual,” said Mr Kangai.

Mr Mufunda said, “I have been denied proper medical attention because I haven’t been paid for the past 17 months while at the same time they denied me medical benefits.

“That is why I appealed to Minister Shamu to help me but it appears everyone is waiting for me to perish.

“I worked for NetOne for 12 years and this is how they are rewarding me.”

Efforts to get a comment from Minister Shamu were fruitless.

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