Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has offered to reinstate fired Esigodini resident magistrate, Mr Tawanda Muchemwa, barely a month after he had approached the Labour Court challenging his dismissal following a disciplinary hearing.
Mr Muchemwa was fired in July by the JSC for misconduct after he allegedly failed to respond to his superiors’ correspondence.
He was also accused of incompetence emanating from his failure to check registers and record movement, absence from duty without official leave, insubordination and failure to comply with the Chief Magistrate’s instructions.
Aggrieved by the outcome of the disciplinary hearing, Mr Muchemwa, through his lawyer Mr Mclean Mahaso of Tanaka Law Chambers, filed a notice of appeal and application for review at the Bulawayo Labour Court challenging his dismissal citing JSC as a respondent.
In a letter addressed to Mr Muchemwa’s lawyers, JSC through its lawyers Matsikidze Attorneys-at-Law, offered to reinstate the fired magistrate on condition that he withdrew his application with no order to costs.
JSC also offered to appoint a different disciplinary board to hear and complete his case within a period of 30 days.
“Kindly note that our client (JSC) is amenable to reinstating your client (Mr Muchemwa) subject to the following conditions: (1) you withdraw your application with no order as to costs, (2) the member’s disciplinary hearing be redone by a different disciplinary board (3) timelines in which to commence and complete the proceedings be 30 calendar days maximum. Can you kindly proceed to withdraw your matters and then we proceed urgently to set down the matter,” read the letter.
In his application for review of disciplinary proceedings, Mr Muchemwa argued that the disciplinary hearing, which was chaired by Hwange regional magistrate, Ms Dambudzo Malunga, erred by finding that he was unlawfully absent from duty on March 28, 2019, saying there was no sufficient and reliable evidence for such a finding.
He said the disciplinary authority erred by holding that he had been rude, disrespectful, discourteous, threatening, improper and insubordinate, arguing that there was no evidence to sustain such a finding.
“The disciplinary authority grossly misdirected itself by holding that the appellant had failed to obey a lawful instruction from the Chief Magistrate when there was no evidence to sustain and convincingly motivate such a position. The disciplinary authority grossly misdirected itself by holding that the appellant had neglected to carry out his duties when there was no evidence to sustain such a finding,” argued Mr Muchemwa.
He wants an order that nullifies the disciplinary proceedings and directing the JSC Secretary, Mr Walter Chikwana, to convene fresh disciplinary proceedings chaired by a judge of either the Labour Court or High Court.
He also wants the JSC to bear the legal costs. Mr Muchemwa was recently on suspension, which was later lifted soon after he was acquitted of assaulting and kidnapping his maid.
The magistrate was said to have last year assaulted his maid, Ms Shaymore Musendekwa (20), at the instigation of his wife.
Harare regional magistrate, Mrs Lucie-Anne Mungwari, sitting at the Tredgold Magistrates’ court in Bulawayo, acquitted him following his application for discharge at the close of the State case.
Mrs Mungwari dismissed the case on the grounds that State witnesses gave inconsistent statements about what transpired.
A bid to transfer him to Rusape was also cancelled after he successfully challenged the decision, arguing that it was being implemented without any disciplinary proceedings being held against him.
He said the transfer did not take into account his personal circumstances given that he had just enrolled at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) to study for a Masters of Business Administration degree. — @mashnets