GWERU Labour Court judge Justice Custom Kachambwa has ordered the Midlands State University (MSU) to either reinstate or pay damages to its four fired security guards whose contracts were terminated on allegations of misappropriation of funds and insubordination.

By Stephen Chadenga

Doubt Chibi and three others had been fired for allegedly misappropriating the MSU Campus Police Association funds amounting to $8 552, but they challenged the decision through their lawyer Nomore Hlabano.

The four were also charged with contravening a section of MSU’s code of conduct after they allegedly wrote disrespectful letters to the chief security officer and the acting vice-chancellor.

But in his judgment, Justice Kachambwa ruled that the theft charges were based on results of an illegal audit.

He said it was the duty of members of the association to manage their financial affairs without the interference of the employer.

“The fact that the theft of funds has negatively affected peace and stability in the workplace does not give the employer the authority to violate the statutory instrument and interfere with the functions and administration of the workers’ organisation,” Justice Kachambwa ruled.

On the charge of insubordination, the judge noted that workers had a right to express their views about conditions of work through the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under section 61 of the Constitution.

Justice Kachambwa said it was lawful for an employee to write a letter to their superior expressing opinions as long as they did not incite violence or advocate for malicious injury to the dignity or reputation of the superior.

“It is accordingly ordered that the proceedings of the hearing committee and that of the appeals committee be and are hereby set aside,” Justice Kachambwa ruled.

“The applicants be and are hereby reinstated without loss of salary and benefits. If reinstatement is no longer possible, the Midlands State University be and is, hereby, ordered to pay damages in lieu thereof as may be agreed between the parties, failing which agreement either party may approach the court for quantification. Each party (has) to bear its costs.”