I have been inundated with social media posts of people raising an alarm that the regulations governing Employer/Employee relationship have been thrown into disarray by the Zimbabwe Supreme Court judgment. The Supreme Court’s 4 judges in a case of Zuva Petroleum vs Don Nyamande & Kingston Donga arrived at the decision that, “the common law position placing employees and employers on an equal footing was still operational”. As a result of this Zuva Petroleum had a right to terminate employment and pay the two employees an amount equal to 3 months’ salary. The two employees had hitherto been offered voluntary retrenchment packages which they turned down, it was at the stage of compulsory retrenchment that the employer abandoned the process and paid the employees 3 months’ salary.
There was an immediate outcry with The Herald newspaper headline saying, “Shock ruling onjob termination…judgment a threat to job security, say labour experts”. Newsday was less animated just stating “Ex-Zuva Petroleum managers lose case”. Alex Magaisa weighed in with his blog post titled, “How the Supreme Court judgmenthas left the employee exposed”. I am no labour lawyer and legal expert but retrenchment is some close to my heart after having represented employees in one grueling case armed with only my Labour Relations knowledge from IPMZ studies.