Mohadi-linked firm in fresh row

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Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi

TWENTY-three people claiming to be former employees of a company at the centre of an ugly wrangle between Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and a Beitbridge businessman have taken the firm’s liquidator to arbitration claiming payment of outstanding salaries.

BY SILAS NKALA

Mohadi and businessman Reginald Dawson were embroiled in a fight over the ownership of liquidated Red Queen Trading until last year when the minister lost a High Court case.

The 23 who claim to be former Red Queen employees took liquidator Barbra Lunga for arbitration demanding damages for unfair dismissal and outstanding salaries.

Alistar Moyo and 22 others claiming to be former workers said they were unfairly dismissed by Dawson.

Kembo Mohadi
Kembo Mohadi

Mohadi’s family and business partner Josias Moyo have for a long time been fighting to take over the firm from Dawson.

The company was eventually bought by a company called AfricOil Petroleum at a cost of $2,3 million.

The alleged former workers, represented by Manase and Manase legal practitioners, sometime on June 21 2013 won an arbitration award granting them to be paid for unfair dismissal and damages, but their total payments were yet to be quantified.

In their submission, they alleged that they were unfairly dismissed sometime in 2009.

On April 13 2015, their lawyers wrote to the Bulawayo-based arbitrator identified as M C Sibanda.

They cited Lunga, who is represented by MDC leader Welshman Ncube, as the defendant.

They requested the arbitrator to call for a hearing with Lunga to determine the quantification of their award.

“On June 21 2013, an arbitration award was handed down to the effect that the claimants were referred to liquidator to negotiate a retrenchment package,” the lawyers submitted.

“The liquidator must be guided by the law that employees are supposed to be given first preference.

“When the company was liquidated, the liquidator did not cite employees in liquidation proceedings or inform them in their personal capacity of the intended liquidation.”

The lawyers said claimants just woke up to find the gates at Red Queen closed and were told the company had been put under provisional liquidation.

They claim the liquidator had refused to negotiate in good faith and pay them their dues. The lawyers tendered their suggested quantification figures which entitles each former worker to between $8 613 and $14 740,70.

The arbitrator then wrote to Lunga’s lawyer on April 21 requesting to have a hearing between the two parties on May 7 at Cillas Conference Centre at 2pm to hear if he had authority to quantify the amount or not.

On Thursday last week, Ncube went to the venue, but the claimants and their lawyers were not in attendance.

Lunga, opposing the arbitration through her lawyer, said the arbitrator had no jurisdiction to determine the matter in the absence of leave of the High Court.

“This is so because the provisions of Section 213 (a) of the Companies Act chapter 24:03 are unequivocally clear and unambiguous in directing and prohibiting the commencement of any legal proceedings against a company in liquidation,” she submitted.

She said the fact that the claimants took two years to act on their dismissals invalidated their claims. Lunga said it needed to be clarified as to whether it was true that the claimants were employed by Red Queen and if they were unfairly dismissed.

She said the arbitrator could have verified that before issuing the award in their favour.

Lunga submitted that according to the Companies Act no action or proceedings shall be commenced against the company except by leave of the court subject to terms as the court may impose when a company is under liquidation.