THE Court of Appeal has saved the global uranium producer company, Mantra Tanzania Limited, from paying the former company’s Finance and Administration Manager, Mr Joaquim Bonaventure, over 400m/- as terminal benefits for allegedly unfair termination of his employment services.
This followed the decision by Justices Augustine Mwarija, Jacobs Mwambegele and Rehema Kerefu to quash the judgment of the High Court’s Labour Division.
They returned the case to the High Court to render a new decision in considering reliefs sought by Mr Bonaventure, the respondent in the matter.
They noted during hearing of an appeal lodged by Mantra Tanzania Limited, the appellant, that before the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA), the respondent complained that he was unfairly terminated and sought, among other reliefs, an order reinstating him to his job.
According to them, there was also no dispute that although in its decision, apart from upholding the CMA’s finding that the respondent’s termination was procedurally unfair, the High Court also found that he was erroneously found guilty of the disciplinary charges against him.
“Despite that finding, the High Court did not consider the respondent’s prayer for reinstatement which was one of the reliefs sought. Reinstatement to employment is one of the remedies which an employee may be granted when it is found that he was unfairly terminated from his employment,” they said.
The justices pointed out that since the respondent had prayed for that relief, it was imperative that, after having found that his termination was substantially and procedurally unfair, the High Court ought to have considered whether or not to grant that relief.
“In our considered view therefore, by omitting to do so, the High Court strayed into an error. In our considered view, the omission to consider whether or not to grant the relief sought by the respondent vitiated the impugned decision because it left that crucial issue undetermined,” they ruled.
Under the circumstances, having found that the omission vitiated the impugned decision, the justices declared, “We hereby quash that judgment and remit the case to the High Court for it to render a decision after having considered the reliefs sought by the respondent.”
The respondent was an employee of the appellant. He was employed on June 15, 2007 in the position of Finance and Administration Manager.
On November 30, he was terminated from employment. His termination resulted from the decision of the Disciplinary Committee of this employer.
He was found guilty of misappropriating his employer’s funds amounting to 4,205,353/- in paying Network Freight forwarders as import duty and other 1.4m/- as Insurance Premium for his private motor vehicle without the appellant’s authorisation.
The respondent was dissatisfied with his termination and lodged a complaint before the CMA, alleging that he was unfairly terminated and prayed for an order reinstating him to his employment and payment of all his employment entitlements and benefits.
In its decision, the CMA held that, although the respondent’s termination was substantially fair, it was procedurally unfair in that, he was not given sufficient notice of hearing to enable him prepare himself for the hearing before the Committee.
As a result, the CMA proceeded to award him terminal benefits in terms of compensation, repatriation expenses and subsistence allowance.
In all, he was awarded a total of 908,148,563/-. Aggrieved by the award, the appellant applied for revision before the High Court (Labour Division).
In its ruling, the High Court disagreed with the finding of the CMA that the respondent’s termination was substantially fair.
The High Court Judge was of the view that the respondent acted bona fide in using his employer’s money to pay the import duty and insurance premium for his personal motor vehicle.
The judge was of the view that the respondent was, by the company’s practice, allowed to use the appellant’s funds provided that he refunds the spent amount timely.
On that finding, the judge reversed the decision of the CMA to the effect that the respondent’s termination was substantially unfair.
The judge, thus held that the respondent’s termination was without valid reasons.
Having so found, the High Court awarded the respondent a total of 412,780,000/-comprising of compensation of 12 months’ salaries amounting to 113,520,000/-for unfair termination, one months’ salary of 9,460,000/-in lieu of notice and subsistence allowance of 270m/-.