High Court judge, ZIMSEC in exam results printing row

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A FORMER High Court judge has been dragged to court for demanding thousands of dollars from the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) after his company was granted a tender to bind results slips before it inflated figures for the work done.

In 2011, Justice Moses Chinhengo through his company, Tarch Print, won a tender from ZIMSEC for the binding of “O” level and “A” Level result slips for the year 2004 to 2010 worth $71 620. 

The binding exercise was to take 21 days. However, Tarch Print only managed to complete the job in 2014 and was paid $69 255 leaving a balance of $2 365.

But Tarch Print raised invoices, which had a balance of $43 708 from a new figure of $112 963 and ZIMSEC declined to pay the revised figure and offered to pay $2 365.  The two parties declared a dispute and the matter was referred for arbitration and the arbitrator ordered ZIMSEC to pay Tarch Print $18 129.  The public examination body also declined to pay and appealed against the arbitrator’s ruling at the High Court.

At the High Court, before Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, ZIMSEC argued that the arbitral award was “contrary to public policy, outrageous in its defiance of logic and intolerably injured the concept of justice in Zimbabwe”.

ZIMSEC also complained that the arbitrator did not interpret the contract between the parties but had gone on to make a new contract for the parties, thus violating the principle of sanctity of contracts.

In her judgment, Justice Matanda-Moyo said it was an accepted principle that judicial officers had a duty to interpret contracts and not to contract on behalf of litigants.  

“Having made findings the arbitrator was supposed to end there and dismiss respondent’s claim,” ruled Justice Matanda-Moyo.

“By going further to award damages not proven the arbitral awardbecomes outrageous. It then goes beyond mere faultiness and clearly does not fall under those damages which are by their very nature difficult to assess with certainty  To allow the present decision to stand will erode and undermine the concept of justice in Zimbabwe,” the judge ruled before setting aside the arbitral award.

Tarch Print was also ordered to pay costs of the application suit.