Top Soldier Confronts Muchinguri Seeking Retirement Over Labour Abuses

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By Mary Taruvinga

AN Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) officer has approached the courts seeking an order that would compel his employer to allow him to retire.

This comes after his employers have turned down his application to quit without him giving concrete reasons.

An aggrieved Matthew Mushininga, a wing commander, has approached the courts claiming his working conditions at AFZ had become unbearable since 2018.

He said in his court papers, the treatment he was receiving was tantamount to constructive dismissal.

Mushininga also told the court it was in the best interests of justice if he was allowed to retire considering that he was no longer receiving his monthly salary.

He cited Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander Philip Valerio Sibanda, and Air Force Commander Elson Moyo as respondents in his court application filed at the High Court.

His lawyers Motsi and Associates in the court application; “Due to the above acts by the respondents, the applicant put in a request to retire to which there was no response genuinely believing that this would save the Air Force time and resources.

“Applicant was instead illegally punished by being removed from the accommodation provided to him at Manyame Airbase without any explanation. On July 17 2020, he was physically manhandled and thrown out of Air Force (premises) and he remains unduly barred from any premises belonging to the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that applicant has been a victim of unfair labour practices and constructive dismissal. Accordingly, it is in the best interests of both applicant and respondents that he be retired from the Air Force of Zimbabwe with full benefits.”

According to the court papers, Mushininga’s trouble started in August 2018 after he was accused of unlawfully opening a junior officers’ bar at Air Headquarters in Manyame.

A board of enquiry was instituted, but he says he was never told of the outcome.

Mushininga said he continued staying at his residence for five months before he was transferred to ZNA Defence University. While there, he was appointed director for business development.

He was, however, demoted to an acting capacity without any explanation.

However, his lawyers said he was not paid in that acting capacity as should have happened.

In 2019, Mushininga was involved in a road traffic accident and another board of enquiry was instituted, but he was also not told of the outcome.

Instead, his vehicle was given to another officer despite that he had signed for it and repair fees deducted from his salary.

In January last year, Mushininga was transferred to Zimbabwe Staff College as part of the teaching staff only to be thrown back into the commander’s pool again without an explanation.

Following the latest transfer, he was also thrown out of his Manyame Airbase accommodation and barred from setting foot in any of the AFZ premises.

The case is still pending.