Headmaster Takes Min Mavima To Court And Wins

THE Labour Court has ordered the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavima, to immediately reinstate a Kezi school headmaster who was recently fired for resisting to be transferred.

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Mr Ezekiel Hleza, who was a headmaster at Tshelanyemba High School in Matobo district, was fired in January this year after defying an order by the ministry to transfer him to Siyoka Secondary School in Beitbridge district.

The ruling by Bulawayo Labour Court judge Justice Mercy Moya-Matshanga follows an application for review by Mr Hleza through his lawyer, Mr Edson Matika of Munyaradzi Gwisai and Partners, challenging the decision by his superiors to transfer him.

In papers before the court, Prof Mavima and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) were cited as respondents.

Justice Moya-Matshanga ruled that the decision of the respondents was unlawful and unjustified. She set aside the transfer and ordered the respondents to immediately reinstate Mr Hleza to his post.

“It is hereby ordered that the application for review be and is hereby granted. The decision by the respondents to transfer the applicant to Siyoka Secondary School be and is hereby set aside. The notice of discharge of applicant from service by the respondents be and is hereby set aside,” ruled Justice Moya-Matshanga.

In his grounds of appeal, Mr Hleza argued that his transfer and subsequent discharge from the civil service was unlawful, unjustified and an act of victimisation by his superiors. He said his employers did not act in good faith when they discharged him from service, arguing that he was not furnished with reasons for the transfer, which was done at short notice.

The respondents, through the Attorney-General’s Office, argued that section 13 of the Public Service Commission Regulations, Statutory Instrument 1 of 2000 states that a member may at any time be transferred by the commission or a delegated authority from the post which he occupies to any other post in the public service whether the post is inside or outside Zimbabwe.

However, sub-section 3 (a) of section 13 of the Public Service Commission Regulations states that the transfer should be planned to minimise discomfort on the part of the member concerned and his family and should be notified timeously to the member concerned who shall be provided with all necessary information relating to the transfer.

The acting provincial education director for Matabeleland South, Mr Lifias Masukume, argued that the transfer was in line with the Public Service Regulations.

The transfer was followed by a cessation of salary notice and subsequently a discharge letter.

The letter stated that the transfer was supposed to be with immediate effect and Mr Hleza was to assume duty at the new station the following day on January 23.

Justice Moya-Matshanga said in dismissing Mr Hleza, the respondents failed to comply with section 13 (3) of the Public Service Commission Regulations.

“The applicant was notified on 22 January to report to another school in another district the following day. The reason for the transfer is not disclosed.

“The discomfort he would suffer together with his family was not considered,” she said.

“In short the transfer was not planned at all and it would appear there was an element of urgency and secretiveness because first of all somebody was brought to replace the applicant unbeknown to him and he was given 24 hours to uproot himself, his family and property at his expense to a far flung district.”

The judge said section 13 (4) provides that no transfer shall be used as a punitive measure except pursuant to the disciplinary procedures.

Mr Hleza said he was shocked when a new headmaster, Mr Ngoneni Moyo, was deployed to his school on January 15, a few days before his transfer, to replace him.

“As if that was not enough, on 2 February 2018, our client was served with a notice of cessation of salary and threats of disciplinary action being taken against him. The cessation of salary was to take effect by February 5, 2018,” said Mr Matika.

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