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Judiciary faulted for ignoring Ombudsman

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Martha Chizuma

The Judiciary has come under fire for ignoring Office of the Ombudsman’s order to compensate a driver it fired in 2012.

The law interpretation branch of the government has, for two years now, not taken steps to give Fransisco Nyirenda his package.

The Judiciary employed Nyirenda as driver in January 2010 and fired him in 2012 for absenteeism, according to a letter dated April 26 2012 signed by Harry Senenje on behalf of Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal.

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Nyirenda lodged a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, through a letter dated April 3 2013, claiming unfair dismissal and that his terminal benefits were withheld.

The Judiciary was informed of the complaint through a letter dated August 24 2016 and it justified the dismissal through its response in a letter dated October 19 2016.

On April 23 2019, former Ombudsman Martha Chizuma gave a determination on the matter and faulted the Judiciary for firing Nyirenda and ordered the employer to pay him compensation by June 30 2019.

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“In considering the appropriate compensation, the law demands that it should be one that is just and equitable. The complainant was obviously on pensionable terms; however, the principle of just and equity demands that he should mitigate his loss,” the determination, which Chizuma signed, reads.

Chizuma, who is now Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General, further said: “My observation is that he is a relatively young man and that the labour market for drivers is not as bad or hostile. All things considered, I believe that, if he puts his mind to it, he will be able to get a job as a driver within a year.

“Accordingly, a 12 months’ salary compensatory order would suffice. I direct that such compensatory payment be made by 30th June 2019.”

The determination indicated that, if either party was dissatisfied with the outcome, it was at liberty to apply for review to the High Court within 120 days from the date of the determination.

In an interview, Nyirenda said he got the determination after the expiry of the 120 days.

“I have not been paid the compensation till now,” he added.

Meanwhile, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has said it is concerning that the Judiciary has failed to either challenge or implement the Ombudsman’s order.

“This is very unfortunate. One expects the Judiciary to be exemplary in the administration of justice. The Judiciary has no justification for the continued delay to compensate the driver,” said CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa.

Kaiyatsa said the Judiciary was setting a bad example in the administration of justice.

“If the Judiciary can do this, what will stop other institutions from doing the same?” he queried.

High and Supreme Court Registrar Gladys Gondwe said she needed more time to follow up on the matter.

“Let me dig up information before commenting,” Gondwe said Monday.

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