BY JAMES MUTASA
The designated Agent for the Electronics, Communications, Radio Television Manufacturing and Allied Industry Boniface Madziwabende recently ordered that Leabridge Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, a company owned by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe to follow procedure laid down by the Labour Act and Statutory Instrument in disciplinary proceedings.
Madziwabende made the ruling when he was determining the matter of non payment of salaries for the period covering January 2023 to June 2023 following a complaint raised by Masotcha Ngwenya an employee of Leabridge Technologies.
Ngwenya had submitted to the Designated Agent that his 6 months’ sick leave had lapsed without him fully recovering to resume his duties and he even approached National Social Security Authority (NSSA) which gave him a form to be filled by the employer.
‘I was given a form by NSSA which was supposed to be filled by the employer so that I get assistance from them (NSSA). Sadly, the employer refused to complete the form. Leabridge Technologies flatly declined to pay me my unpaid salaries which I intended to use to settle my medical bills,” reads part of Ngwenya’ submission.
Comfort Mafirakureva and Romaco Munjenga on behalf of Leabridge Technologies argued that Masotcha Ngwenya had exhausted all his sick leave days in terms of section 14 of the Labour Act hence there was no need to continue paying him salaries while he was not reporting for duty.
In his determination Madziwabende wrote that, “during sickness, an employee may avail accrued vacation instead of sick leave in half pay or without pay. In casu,’ went on Madziwabende, “the employee exhausted the two options provided by the Labour Act and never terminated the contract of the employee on medical grounds or utilization of industry code of conduct that is SI 88 of 2016 hence leaving the employee hanging in the balance. The case is very clear that Respondent was supposed to be guided by the Labour Act chapter 28:01 section 14.’
Madziwabende concluded his determination thus, “I do hereby order the Respondent to follow proper procedure as outlined in terms of the Labour Act section 14 or in terms of statutory 247 of 2006 section 24”.
It remains to be seen if Leabridge Technologies will be moved by the Designated Agent’s determination and pay Masotcha Ndlovu his unpaid salaries.
Commenting on the issue, Henry Tarumbira, General Secretary of the National Union of Metal and Allied Industries in Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ), urged employers to fully abide by the Labour Act when handling employees’ issues.
“Our duty as a union is to protect employees at large and our members in particular. We will be annoyed if our members are unfairly treated. We will not back down until Mr Ngwenya the Harare Branch Vice Chairman is paid his unpaid salaries.’