Former Zimdef employee wins appeal against seizure of high-end vehicles, company assets |

By Staff Reporter

Former Information Communication Manager for Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) Tichahleyi Mpofu has won a Supreme Court appeal against seizure of high-end vehicles, a cellphone, an iPad and a laptop by the entity’s Chief Executive Officer, Sebastian Marume.

The High Court ruled that he had no authority to take assets he was given as part of his conditions of service.

A three-panel Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Hlekani Mwayera, Felistas Chatukuta and Tendai Uchena set aside the High Court’s judgement ruling that Marume had no authority to claim the assets.

“The CEO, as an ex officio member of the board could only derive authority from the board to run the affairs of the public entity.

“In terms of the Act the board is the responsible authority to run the respondent`s affairs,” said the bench.

The judges also said the statutory imperative imposed by law on the CEO to notify the minister of the absence of the board, did not clothe Zimdef with authority to depose to the impugned founding papers.

“The preliminary point that the deponent to the founding papers, that is the CEO, did not have the relevant authority as there was no resolution by the Board, ought to have been sustained.

“In the absence of a board resolution, the actions of the CEO are a nullity.  This conclusion is dispositive of the appeal. It is therefore not necessary to allude to the other issues that were raised in this appeal,” they ruled.

Mpofu was formerly employed by Zimdef as the Information Communication Manager.

Zimdef is a fund established under the Manpower Planning Development Act [Chapter 28:02] (“the Act”) with the principal mandate of developing skilled manpower in Zimbabwe.

As part of his conditions of service, Mpofu was issued with an Isuzu double cab and DMAX, an HPZ Book Laptop, a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus mobile phone (the assets).

On 5 July 2021, Mpofu was suspended from employment with full pay and benefits pending investigations into allegations of contravening s 4 (a) of the Labour (National Employment Code of Conduct) Regulation 2006.

He was found guilty of the alleged misconduct following a full disciplinary hearing leading to his dismissal from employment.

Marume then requested that Mpofu surrender the assets.

Mpofu failed to comply with the request and Zimdef applied rei vindicatio (claim physical return) before the High Court.

The High Court ruled in favour of Zimdef and slapped Mpofu with costs on a higher scale noting that he had no authority to hang on to the assets.

Zimdef submitted that the assets were given to Mpofu as tools of trade in terms of the contract of employment as read with the Management Policy.

It was argued that upon termination, he had no basis and reason to remain holding on to the assets.

In the founding papers, Marume averred that at the time of deposing to the affidavit, members of the board had not yet been appointed, so there was no board to administer the respondent’s affairs.

He further averred that by virtue of him being the only Board member available, he had the requisite authority to depose to the founding affidavit and sue the appellant on behalf of the respondent.

Mpofu among other things contended that in that capacity, the CEO could exercise the powers of an accounting authority, a submission which found favour with the Supreme Court.

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