Labour Court Declines Jurisdiction in CIO Employment Dispute

BY STAFF REPORTER

Labour Court Judge Justice Bridget Tapiwa Chivizhe has thrown out 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 citing that the court had no jurisdiction over the case.

Justice Chivizhe ruled that the Labour Court does not have the authority to handle the dispute as it involves a disciplined force.

The facts of the matter are that Shumba, who was employed by the spy organisation as a Divisional Intelligence Officer, was found guilty by a disciplinary committee and subsequently demoted for failing to follow laid down procedures.

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. Furthermore, he was alleged to have awarded a contract to Leggim Enterprises in contradiction to a clear instruction to only procure materials and have renovations done by the CIO’s Material Resources Management (MRM) Artisanal Section.

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.

After being found guilty and charged, Shumba appealed against the ruling by the disciplinary authority ato the Labour Court seeking redress.

The CIO challenged Shumba’s application, arguing that as a member of a disciplined force, the Labour Court had no jurisdiction. Justice Chivizhe was in agreement with the CIO’s application. “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,” she said.

She cited Section 3(3) of the Labour Act, which excludes members of disciplined forces from its application noting that: “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.

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