Labour Court Judge Declines Jurisdiction in CIO Employment Dispute

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HARARE — Labour Court judge Justice Bridget Tapiwa Chivizhe has declined jurisdiction over a case involving the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and an employee, Cloddie Shumba, who was dismissed after allegedly signing contracts worth over US$70,000 without proper authorization.

Justice Chivizhe ruled that the Labour Court does not have the authority to handle the dispute as it involves a disciplined force. Shumba, a Divisional Intelligence Officer, was found guilty by a disciplinary committee and subsequently demoted. He took the matter to the Labour Court seeking redress.

Shumba was accused of signing two contracts with Leggim Enterprises valued at US$48,978.76 and US$28,124.20 for the construction of a storeroom and a water and oil separator. These contracts were signed without the approval of the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO), PIO Nicholas Rgwambiwa. Additionally, Shumba was alleged to have awarded a contract to Leggim Enterprises in contradiction to an explicit instruction to only purchase materials and have renovations carried out by the CIO’s Material Resources Management (MRM) Artisanal Section.

The CIO challenged Shumba’s application, arguing that as a member of a disciplined force, the Labour Court had no jurisdiction. Justice Chivizhe agreed, stating, “After considering the parties’ submissions and the authorities referred to by them, it is the court’s finding that the point raised by the CIO is clearly merited.”

Justice Chivizhe referenced Section 3(3) of the Labour Act, which excludes members of disciplined forces from its application. She noted, “It has not been contested by the appellant that the respondent (CIO) falls into the category of a disciplined force. The arguments presented by the appellant are not persuasive at all.”

The judge emphasized that interpreting Section 3(3) differently would go against legal precedent, concluding that the court’s jurisdiction had been clearly ousted by the legislation. Consequently, she struck the appeal off the roll with costs.

The disciplinary committee found Shumba guilty of violating several paragraphs of the Code of Conduct for the Department of State for National Security, including abuse of authority. Shumba denied the charges, claiming he had kept his superiors informed of the project’s progress and that the CPO should have conducted necessary checks.

Shumba argued that the disciplinary committee erred in finding him guilty, asserting that the projects were approved by his superiors and that he had not failed in his duty to keep them updated. He also contended that the demotion was disproportionate compared to the warnings given to other employees for similar offenses.

The CIO successfully maintained that Section 3(3) of the Labour Act excludes disciplined categories such as the military, police, and persons employed in the President’s office on security duties from Labour Court jurisdiction.

In this legal context, the Labour Court’s decision underscores the limitations of judicial oversight over disciplined forces, reinforcing the need for internal accountability mechanisms within such organizations.