Employers fret over Malaba remarks

The business sector has expressed concern over remarks by Chief Justice Luke Malaba over his support for the retrospective application of the law at a time employers have applied against a clause in the amended Labour Act compelling them to compensate workers dismissed as a result of a 2015 Supreme Court ruling, businessdigest has learnt.

Kudzai Kuwaza

Employers in 2015 took government to court over the retrospective application of the law where employers are now obliged to compensate workers they dismissed using last year’s July 17 Supreme Court ruling that allowed them to do so on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package.

In his presentation at a judges’ symposium earlier this year, Malaba said that parliament was within its rights to apply the law retrospectively.

“In any event, nothing in the constitution bars the legislature from enacting retrospective legislation,” Malaba said at the symposium. “The legislature gets its power from people in terms of section 112(1) of the constitution. Thus one of the main duties of the legislature is to use the law as a tool of social engineering in order to promote harmony in society.

“Therefore, where a situation arises which threatens that harmony, the legislature has an obligation to cure this even if it means enacting retrospective legislation.”

Industrialists who spoke to businessdigest expressed concern that Malaba’s stance could have an influence on the outcome of the court case which seeks to strike off the particular clause.

“If he had made the remarks after the case over the retrospective application of the law over the 2015 Supreme Court ruling had been resolved we would not have any problems with his remarks,” an industrialist said. “We are very worried that the remarks of Chief Justice Malaba could have a persuasive effect on the judge who will handle the case.”

Another insider involved in the class action said that government’s failure to present their heads of arguments to the court application made in 2015 signals that government has “no intention whatsoever” to respond to the application by employers.

There is widespread concern by the business sector that should employers be obliged to compensate those they dismissed, it will trigger massive job losses and company closures.

5 thoughts on “Employers fret over Malaba remarks”

  1. jim jones says:

    The judiciary system was messed up by the Late fake Chief Jusitice

  2. tariro shumba says:

    I salute the Chief Justice, the majority of those who did not pay retrenchment packages are those companies from the colonial era and those belonging to blacks who have been abusing labour to line up their pockets.
    The truth is what goes round will come round, those who are threatening to close shop should definitely do so, they have used the retrenched to acquire wealth and never compensated them, it’s now pay back time, they are the same people who have been externalising and continue to do so.
    Chief Justice, you are acting the biblical way and what a legacy you will leave for your family.
    All banks, parastatals and other private companies paid packages why are you few resisting.

  3. kipiyatsva Mutero says:

    I also salute the chief justice for being the only reasonable person of our time The business sector had taken advantage of the moment of madness on the late chief justice’s Chidyausiku judgement. Can you imagine Meikles fired employee, some of them had worked for the organization for over 30 years without giving them anything. The Government should let those who are threatening to close shop do so since they still have a colonial oppressive mind.

  4. Edmund Moyo says:

    The late Chief Justice had surrounded himself with a few corrupt Advocates who were helping him to make unfavourable decisions. Sadly the main actor is gone and they are now exposed . Where to guys now??? Go back to honest basics.
    Its most unfortunate that MDC legislators Jessie Majome, Priscilla Misihairambwi, Nelson Chamisa and were against the retrospective idea, yet the Chief Justice says there is nothing in the constitution which forbids it being implemented. Shame on you.

  5. Mbongeni Sakhe says:

    There is everything wrong with applying the law retrospectively. People make decisions on the basis of the applicable law at the time. That is how order is maintained in a forever changing world with news laws being enacted all the time.

    To use what may sound a ridiculous example, should parliament decide to abolish “amalobolo” and make it an offense, would you expect all the people who recieved such payments from time immemorial to return them?

    Having said that, what would make sense is to subject all such decissions to a good faith test, and those companies failing the good faith test be ordered to pay compensation.

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