ZNNP+ ordered to pay former employee US$31,000; NGO wanted to pay terminal in ZWD although her salary was in USD

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By Staff Reporter

HIGH Court Justice Priscilla Munangati Manongwa has ordered Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) to pay its former Executive director Muchanyara Mukamuri US$31,000 following their fallout.

Mukamuri had approached the court seeking a declaratur to the effect that she be paid what she is owed in United States dollars.

She also wanted the court to declare that ZNNP+ conduct of seeking to pay her dues in Zim$ unlawful because the organisation pays its employees in foreign currency.

ZNNP+ had opposed the application arguing that Mukamuri must be paid in local currency because she is based in Zimbabwe.

This was despite the fact that during her time in office she was paid in US$ all the time.

After her contract was terminated, Mukamuri sought payment of her salary arrears and cash in lieu of leave.

Sensing reluctance on the part of her employer she approached a labour officer who ruled in her favour and awarded her US$ 37 180.

The applicant proceeded to apply for confirmation of the award in the Labour Court and same was confirmed by Justice Bridget Chivhizhe in January 2021 under LC/H/73/2021.

ZNNP+ wanted to pay Mukamuri at the rate of one Zim$ to one United States Dollar.

She however, successfully argued that her former employer is a  non-governmental organisation which is funded by foreign organisations.

Mukamuri also told the court that the organisation receives donations from foreign organisations to execute its mandate and pay its employees.

In its opposing affidavit, ZNNP+ argued that the Labour Court allowed arrear salaries in the sum of $31,200 but did not make a pronouncement on the currency.

It further contended that it was in the discretion of the respondent to pay in United States Dollars when funds permit.

But the High Court dismissed the arguments and ruled that Nostro accounts were never affected by new economic policies.

“It is common cause that the applicant was an employee of the respondent and she was being remunerated by the respondent,” ruled the court.

“She is owed money which is not disputed, and she claims she was being paid in United States dollars which has not been disputed and she will be prejudiced if she were to be paid in Zimbabwean dollars.

“It is clear that the applicant is an interested party and has a right to payment of her money as she rendered service to the respondent her employer and should the declaration be made it will be binding upon the respondent. Her case entitles her to a declaration.

“A reading of the judgment clearly shows that the monies being discussed pertained to United States dollars with the court, at times, categorically mentioning United States dollars although in other instances it would be just the dollar sign.”

The judge added; “In any case, the respondent has never at any point pointed to the fact that the applicant received Zimbabwean dollars. The facts of the case are such that the court can grant the declaration that the applicant be paid in United States dollars.

“The applicant was employed by a foreign funded organisation which continues to pay its employees in United States dollars. In essence, the organisation or the respondent is excluded from the operation of s 4(1)(d) of SI 33/19.(2)

“For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that the issuance of any electronic currency shall not affect or apply in respect of (a) funds held in nostro foreign currency accounts, which shall continue to be designated in such foreign currencies; and foreign loans and foreign obligations denominated in any foreign currency, which shall continue to be payable in such foreign currency.

“It is given that the respondent operates a foreign currency account from which the applicant and the rest of the employees continue to be paid from. That account was not affected by the issuance of the electronic currency given its exclusion.

The judge ruled, “The offer by the respondent to pay the applicant the amount ordered by the court under LC/LRA/325/17 in Zimbabwean dollars be and is hereby declared unlawful and invalid.

“The respondent must pay the applicant the amount of USD31 200  and costs.”