The Court of Appeal has reversed a 24-month’s salary compensation awarded by to two former employees of the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA).
In 2018 the Industrial Court ordered CEDA to compensate Goitsemodimo Mbuse and Tshepo Digwaamaje, after they were unfairly retrenched from work.
The duo were retrenched in 2017 following a restructuring exercise which they say was a purging exercise to get rid of them.
They worked in the Credit Department as Portfolio Credit Evaluation Officers and had sought reinstatement and 24 months wages as compensation.
The court heard that in implementation of the new Business Model Review, the employees failed both written and oral interviews to be considered for new positions at CEDA.
The two contested that view, further arguing that CEDA had failed to apply the First In, Last Out Rule.
Justices Singh Walia, Mercy Garekwe, and Leatile Dambe found that upon completion of the restructuring exercise, the employees were offered a six months pay and three months notice, which they declined.
“The court then determined that the employer had the ability to pay. What I however fail to appreciate is how the lower court determined a package that is three times more than what the Appellant had offered, and how the 24 months wage pay can be justified,” said Justice Garekwe in the judgment.
The judges agreed that compensation should range between one and six months and only under exceptional circumstances that it can go up.
The judges said that the lower court erred in taking into consideration factors raised by the employees.
Among them, that they were traumatized by the retrenchment; that their age (38 and 43) at the time of retrenchment left them with limited employment opportunities; and that they were forced to move their children from private to public schools.
The former employees also said that the CEDA management targeted them for their union activism and that the other is a woman and was victimized for her gender.
Mboki Chilisa represented CEDA whilst Onalethata Kambai represented the former employees.