THE Industrial Relations Court has ordered the Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) to pay its former Secretary General Charles Mushitu K 1.7 million for wrongful dismissal.
Mr. Mushitu was dismissed by the ZRCS from his position as Secretary General on 21st March, 2012 for alleged gross misconduct after serving the society for nine years from 2004, a move which made him drag his former employers to court.
According to the grounds of dismissal, ZRCS submitted that Mr. Mushitu was dismissed for allegedly giving out a Toyota Land Cruiser which belonged the organisation to a Ms. Bwalya, who was Mr. Mushitu’s acquaintance.
On the second ground, Mr. Mushitu is alleged to have written emails to his superior complaining about unfair treatment which allegedly amounted to insubordination as they contained abusive language.
The ZRCS also contended that Mr. Mushitu misconducted himself when he moved from a rented house to his own house but continued to draw a monthly allowance of K10,000 per month as housing allowance instead of getting of 30% of basic pay as per contract of employment.
In its last ground of dismissal, ZRCS also contended that Mr. Mushitu for unknown reason and authority continued using a second hand vehicle which belonged to the society.
But when delivering judgement, Judge Martin Musaluke dismissed all the four grounds of dismissal as baseless as they did not warrant the society to dismiss its employee.
“We do not consider the Appeal Process that followed after the dismissal to be relevant as we have already found that there was procedural impropriety and unfairness in the way the complainant was dismissed on 21st March, 2012. In the case at hand, we order that the complainant be paid 24 months’ salary as compensatory damages for wrongful dismissal,” Judge Musaluke said.
He also observed that while it was at the court’s discretion to order for reinstatement of the employment of the complainant, the court had proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the relationship between the employee and his employers had deteriorated irreparably. “In the present case, evidence has adduced which made us conclude that the relationship between the two parties could not be amended and therefore, we shall not order reinstatement but award damages instead. We therefore award the complainant 12 months’ salary as damages for unfair dismissal.
“We also award the following to the complainant: payment of K1.754.50 as medical refund; educational allowance of K2,500.00; salary arrears for February and March, 2012; accrued leave days being at K29,055.00 and housing allowance for six months at K10,000 per month,” he said.
And commenting on the judgement, Mr. Mushitu said he was glad that the case was concluded but observed that it was unfortunate his former employers had taken a step which costed the less privileged in society.
He said the colossal amounts of money that the society was going to pay him would have gone a long way in alleviating the suffering of some Zambians.
Mr Mushitu however said he would donate part of the money to 10 Red Cross branches across the country.
“I have decided to donate a substantial amount of the money which the court ordered the Zambia Red Cross Society to pay me to 10 branches in each of the 10 provinces in Zambia,” Mr. Mushitu said.